The Roman Deformation of the New Testament church and and history relevant to the Reformation
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Critical and other contrasts between the New Testament church and the church of Rome

Table of partial lists of contrasts

Historical testimony to the progressive deformation of the church. Including falsified history

Development of the distinctive Catholic priesthood Including compelled clerical celibacy

History relevant to the context of the Reformation

Critical and other contrasts between the New Testament church and the church of Rome.

Catholic apologists deceive souls by asserting that their church is uniquely the one true church which the Lord Jesus founded. Some even quote a text from "The Commonitory" by Vincent of Lérins which states, "all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. (Commonitory ch. II, §6; NPNF Series II Vol. XI p. 132) However, not only is the one true church that of the universal body of Christ (to whom whom every born-again believer is part of: 2 Cor. 12:13), since it alone only and always consists 100% of believers (while visible, organic churches invariably become admixtures of wheat and tares), but the Catholic church itself (as the church taking up the most space on the broad way to destruction) stands in critical and overall contrast to the church of Scripture, though mixing Truth with error.

This deformation of the NT church was progressive, and which finally reached the point which required the Reformation, which itself was and is not perfect nor the “work of one day or two. (cf. Ezra 10:13)

This reform was and is far from complete, and though it enabled the greatest modern increase in the kingdom of God of souls through manifest regeneration, yet it remains that as a whole, the corporate church of today stands in contrast to the prima NT church in purity, power and passion, and which saw its unity under manifest apostles of God. (1Co. 6:4-10).

However, while much can be said about the current state of the evangelical church (and of my need for greater Christ-likeness), yet it is Catholicism and the church of Rome in particular with its distinctive teachings that is not manifest in the only wholly God-inspired and substantive record of what the NT (New Testament) church believed. Which testimony, with its teachings, is not that of so-called "church fathers," but wholly God-inspired Scripture, in particular Acts through Revelation, which best shows how the NT church understood the gospels.

Which church,

1. Was not based upon the premise of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility of office (papal or conciliar in union with the pope) as per Rome, which has presumed to infallibly declare that she is and will perpetually be infallible whenever she speaks in accordance with her infallibly defined (scope and subject-based) criteria, which renders her declaration that she is infallible, to be infallible, as well as all else she accordingly declares.

And thus a faithful RC is not to seek to ascertain the veracity of RC teaching by examination of evidences. For to do so would be to doubt the claims of Rome to be the assuredly infallible magisterium, by which a RC obtains assurance of Truth.)

For since Catholicism's claim of ensured magisterial veracity is the basis for a faithful Catholics assurance of doctrine, we see statements such as:

"Catholic doctrine, as authoritatively proposed by the Church, should be held as the supreme law; for, seeing that the same God is the author both of the Sacred Books and of the doctrine committed to the Church, it is clearly impossible that any teaching can by legitimate means be extracted from the former, which shall in any respect be at variance with the latter.." [as the premise is false, so is the conclusion] Providentissimus Deus

"It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock...the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors ." - Vehementer Nos, an Encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on February 11, 1906.

It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine....I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. Its past is present with it, for both are one to a mind which is immutable. Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves....The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour. "Most Rev.erend" Dr. Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Lord Archbishop of Westminster, “The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation,”

To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment , and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Epistola Tua (1885), Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII

Still, fundamentalists ask, where is the proof from Scripture? Strictly, there is none. It was the Catholic Church that was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly. The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.” Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), p. 275)

In contrast to the Assumption, which was so lacking in early testimony that (as Ratzinger states) chief scholars of Rome opposed it being made an article of faith, and for which a pope fallibly invoked some specious support in Munificentissimus Deus before issuing an infallible decree, when the NT church leadership was faced with a matter that could not be resolved locally, neither Peter or the church declared they were issuing an infallible decree, based on their office perpetually possessing this charism.

Instead, in Acts 15 Peter, as the non-assertive street-leader among brethren, testified to an indisputable fact of conversion based on the evangelical gospel he preached of 'hear and believe" salvation by heart-purifying faith, even prior to baptism, (Acts 10:43-47; 15:7-9)

Which testimony Paul and Barnabas added to, followed by James issuing the Scripturally substantiated judgment of exhortation on what should be done.

But which was not like that of "we declare, pronounce define," as if the mere fact that the magisterium taught this was a guarantee that it is true, but expressed that "it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us,it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us..." (Acts 15:28)

And with its Scriptural basis and the leadership being so manifestly evident men of God in word and in power (2 Co. 6:4-10) then it pleased the whole church to receive this judgment.

1A. Never presumed that being the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture, and recipients of promises of Divine guidance, presence and perpetuation meant that such possessed ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility, as Catholicism presumes, with Catholics arguing that promises of Divine guidance, presence and perpetuation mean that their church possesses ensured infallibility.

Instead of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility of office, while the Old Testament magisterial office certainly had authority, with dissent being a capital offense, (Dt. 17:8-13) yet the church began with an itinerant Preacher and preachers who were rejected by those who sat in the seat of Moses (Mt. 23:2 cf. Ex. 19:5; Lv. 10:11; Dt. 4:31; 17:8-13; Ps, 11:4,9; Is. 41:10, Ps. 89:33,34; Jer. 7:23) over Israel, who were the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture, "because that unto them were committed the oracles of God," (Rm. 3:2) to whom pertaineth "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises" (Rm. 9:4) of Divine guidance, presence and perpetuation as they believed. (Gn. 12:2,3; 17:4,7,8;

But the NT church began with dissenters (Christ, and apostles and prophets) who established their Truth claims upon Scriptural substantiation in word and in power. (Mt. 22:23-45; Lk. 24:27,44; Jn. 5:36,39; Acts 2:14-35; 4:33; 5:12; 15:6-21;17:2,11; 18:28; 28:23; Rm. 15:19; 2Cor. 12:12, etc.)

1B. Did not believe that whatever the historical magisterium formally declared was the word of God, as in oral tradition, was necessarily the case and equal to Scripture, but which Catholicism presumes.

Instead, while the formal word of God/the Lord was sometimes first spoken, yet it is manifest that writing is God's means of preservation. (Exodus 17:14 34:1,27; Deuteronomy 10:4; 17:18; 27:3; 31:24; Joshua 1:8; 2 Chronicles 34:15,18-19; Isaiah 30:8; cf. Job 19:23; Matthew 4:4; John 20:31; Luke 24:44-45; Acts 17:11; Revelation 1:19; 20:12,15) And that, as written, Scripture became the transcendent supreme standard for obedience and testing and establishing truth claims as the wholly Divinely inspired and assured, Word of God, as is abundantly evidenced. And which noble souls ascertained the veracity of oral preaching by. (Acts 17:11)

Also, note that Sola Scriptura preachers can enjoin obedience to oral preaching, presuming it is Scriptural, while apostolic preaching could be wholly inspired of God and include new revelation, which even Rome does not claim when speaking the words of her presumed "infallible" promulgations.

1C. Never promised or taught ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility was essential for preservation of truth, including writings to be discerned and established as Scripture, and for assurance of faith, and that historical descent as the stewards of Scripture means that such possessed ensured infallibility.

Instead, the church began with common people having correctly discerned both men and writings as being of God (essentially due to their unique and enduring heavenly qualities and attestation), and again, even in dissent from those who sat in the sat of Moses. (Jn. 7:45-49)

2. Never recorded or manifested (not by conjecture) baptism without repentant personal faith, that being the stated requirement for baptism. (Acts 2:38; 8:36-38)

3. Never preached a gospel of salvation which begins with becoming good enough to be with God (due to removal of "original sin" and by "infused" charity) effected by the act of baptism ("ex opere operato:" by the act itself), so that the subject is justified and accepted by God on account of being "formally justified and made holy by his own personal justice and holiness (causa formalis)." (Catholic Encyclopedia>Sanctifying Grace). Which results in the need for the invention of RC "Purgatory " (for most) commencing at death, in order to once again become good enough to be with God in Heaven (as well as to atone for sins not sufficiently atoned for on earth), since after baptism it becomes all to evident the sinful nature of is all too alive. And which baptism is stressed as needful even for morally incognizant souls (infants) who are guilty of nothing and need not and cannot obey the stated requiremento for baptism, that of repentant faith. (Acts 2:38; 8:36,37)

Instead, while nothing unclean shall enter God's Holy City, (Rv. 21:27) believers are already washed, sanctified and justified (1Co. 6:11) by effectual faith in the risen Lord Jesus to save them by His sinless shed blood, (Rem. 3;25 — 5:1; Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5) and are already accepted in the Beloved on His account, and made to spiritually sit with Christ in Heaven, (Eph. 1:6; 2:6) and by Him have direct access to God in the holy of holies in prayer. (Heb. 10:19) And who, if they die in faith will go to forever be with the Lord at death. (Phil 1:23; 2Cor. 5:8 [“we”]; Heb, 12:22,23; 1Cor. 15:51ff'; 1Thess. 4:17)

And with the only suffering after this life being that of the loss of rewards (and the Lord's disapproval at that time) at the judgment seat of Christ, which one is saved despite the loss of, and which does not occur until the Lord's return and believers resurrection. (1Cor. 3:8ff; 4:5; 2Tim. 4:1,8; Rev.11:18; Mt. 25:31-46; 1Pt. 1:7; 5:4) And which resurrection being the only transformative the believer looks forward to after this life (Rm. 8:23; 2Co. 5:1-4; Phil 3:20,21; 1Jn. 3:2) — not purgatory, which suffering commences at death in order to enable souls to enter Heaven.

4. Never had a separate class of believers called “saints,” who directly go to Heaven at death, while the rest go to purgatory.

5. Never taught that Peter was the "rock" of Mt. 16:18 upon which the church is built, interpreting Mt. 16:18, rather than upon the rock of the faith confessed by Peter, thus Christ Himself.

For in contrast to Peter (“petros”), that the LORD Jesus is the Rock (“petra”) or "stone" (“lithos,” and which denotes a large rock in Mk. 16:4) upon which the church is built is one of the most abundantly confirmed doctrines in the Bible (petra: Rm. 9:33; 1Cor. 10:4; 1Pet. 2:8; cf. Lk. 6:48; 1Cor. 3:11; lithos: Mat. 21:42; Mk.12:10-11; Lk. 20:17-18; Act. 4:11; Rm. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; cf. Dt. 32:4, Is. 28:16) including by Peter himself. (1Pt. 2:4-8) Rome's current catechism attempts to have Peter himself as the rock as well, but also affirms: “On the rock of this faith confessed by St Peter, Christ build his Church,” (pt. 1, sec. 2, cp. 2, para. 424) which understanding some of the so-called “church fathers” concur with.)

6. Never taught or exampled that all the churches were to look to Peter as the bishop of Rome and the first of a line of supreme infallible heads reigning over all the churches, and having the final defining judgment in questions affecting the whole Church, even without the consent of the bishops. Which is contrary to what Scripture reveals of Peter, and which modern research even by Catholics rovides testimony against.

7. Never manifestly saw mention or intimation of preparation to choose a successor for Peter by electing a elder as a apostolic successor, much less conveying total supreme papal authority. Unlike king David and the promise of his son Solomon to reign over Israel and his institution as king, (1 Chronicles 29) and the record of his son Rehoboam reigning in his stead (2 Chronicles 9:31) and so forth, the Bible not only does not record Peter’s death but it also does not foretell of a successor or speak of preparations for one. Nor does it mention any apostolic successor for any apostle (even though the apostle James who was martyred: Acts 12:1,2) except for Matthias being chosen for the apostate Judas (which was in order to maintain the foundational number of apostles (Acts 1:15-26; :cf. Rv. 21:14), which was by the non-political Scriptural means of casting lots, (cf. Prov. 16:33) which Rome has never used to select popes. What Scripture does teach is that of presbyterous (see #8) being ordained to oversee the flock of God. (Acts 20:28)

Furthermore, although Rome's so-called apostolic successors do not claim to be apostles, yet as popes they presume ensured infallibity as being an attribute of the apostle Peter and for ecumenical councils with him, though this was not an ensured charism, and Romes popes fail (as I do also) of the overall character, attributes, qualifications and credentials of manifest Biblical apostles, in all things approving themselves as the ministers of God. (2 Corinthians 6:4; Acts 1:21,22; 1Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:11,12; 2Cor. 6:4-10; 12:12)

8. Never had any pastors distinctively titled "priests" ( Catholicism translates into English the distinctive Greek word for a separate sacerdotal class, "hiereus," as “priest” - a etymological corruption of the Greek "presbyterous" (senior/elder) - but which word (hiereus) the Holy Spirit never used for NT clergy (presbyterous or episkopos (overseer), both denoting the same person) as all believers are called to sacrifice (Rm. 12:1; 15:16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; Heb. 13:15,16; cf. 9:9) and all constitute the only priesthood —hieráteuma— in the NT church. ) as denoting a separate sacerdotal class whose Catholic priesthood's unique sacrificial function is that of confecting the Eucharist, turning bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and offering it as a sacrifice for sin, and dispensing it to the people as spiritual food, versus preaching the word being their primary active function, (2Tim. 4:2) feeding the flock thereby (Acts 20:28)

Which alone is said to spiritually nourish souls, (1Tim. 4:6) and which builds them up. (Acts 20:32) See below.

9. Never was a church that manifested the Lord's supper as being the prominent paramount practice as the central means of grace, around which all else revolved, it being “the source and summit of the Christian faith” in which “the work of our redemption is accomplished,” by which one received spiritual life in themselves by consuming the “real” flesh and blood of Christ under the appearance and manifest materialism of non-existent bread and wine, even to the smallest particle (until such begins to decay, at which point Christ also is said to cease to exist under that “appearance”). Which is in contrast to preaching the word being the primary active function of pastors (see above ). See here by God's grace.

In contrast, Scripture teaches one receives spiritual life by believing the gospel by which one is regenerated, (Acts 10:43-47; 15:7-9; Eph. 1:13) and thus one desires the milk of the word, (1Pt. 2:2) and then receives the “strong meat” (Heb. 5:12-14) of the word of God, being “nourished” (1Tim. 4:6) and built up by the word of God, and letting it dwell in them richly. (Col. 3:16) By which word (Scriptures) man is to live by, (Mt. 4:4) as Christ lived by the Father, (Jn. 6:57) with doing His will being His “meat.” (Jn. 4:34) And with the Lord's supper, which is only manifestly described once (besides mention of the "feast of charity" Jude 1:14) in the inspired record of the life of the church, being that in which the focus is on the church as the body of Christ showing unity with Christ and each other, by recognizing/treating others as blood-bought members of that Body by sharing food in that communal meal, thus effectually remembering and showing/declaring the Lord sacrificial death for the church which He (God) purchased with His own sinless shed blood. (Acts 2:28; cf. 1Pt. 2:22-24)

10. Never differentiated between bishops and elders, and with grand titles ("Most Reverend Eminence," “Very Reverend,” “Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord,” “His Eminence Cardinal,” “The Most Reverend the Archbishop,” etc.) or made themselves distinct by their ostentatious pompous garb. (Matthew 23:5-7) Or presumed that all pastors were to be distinctively called “father.” (However, rather than excluding al these titles, I think Mt. 23:8-10 is a form of hyperbole, reproving the love of titles such as Catholicism examples, and “thinking of men above that which is written, and instead the Lord emphasizes the One Father of all who are born of the Spirit, whom He Himself worked to glorify).

11. Never required clerical celibacy as the norm, (1Tim. 3:17) which presumes all such have that gift, (1Cor. 7:7) or otherwise manifested that celibacy was the norm among apostles and pastors, or had vowed to be so. (1Cor. 9:4; Titus 1:5,6)

12.Never manifested believers coming or being exhorted to regularly come to clergy to confess and be forgiven of sins in general, as uniquely have any power to bind and or loose. . While Roman Catholicism allows that "venial" sins can be forgiven by penitent confession directly to God, and one is only bound/obligated "to confess serious sins at least once a year,' (CCC 1457) yet "confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church." (CCC 1458)

For support, Catholics cite the promise of forgiveness in James 5:15, as well as that of binding and loosing in Matthew 18:18; John 20:23. However, the promise of forgiveness in James 5:15 is in response to the intercession of holy men, that of clergy (presbuteros, not Catholic priests ) these being the class more likely to be holy, and having disciplinary authority in union with the church, (1 Corinthians 5:4,5; 2 Corinthians 2:9–11) but without any example here of, or exhortation to regular confession of sins in general particularly to clergy being strongly recommended..

And which forgiveness in James 5:15 was most likely for sins of ignorance which the subject is being chastised for (cf. Lv. 4:1-11; Luke 12:47, 48) Which corresponds to what we see in Mark 2:1-12, in which a man sick of the palsy is forgiven by Christ, without any confession on his part, and which equated to being healed, as a result of the intercession of his friends who brought him to Christ.

Thus we see here and in James 5:14,15 that God can show mercy and grace in response to the intercession of holy pastors. Yet as expanded upon below, the only command or exhortation to confess sins is to each other as a practice is in what follows, that of James 5:16–20 in which holy faith-filled believers may obtain healing thru prayer, and “hide a multitude of sins,”and with the provision for binding and loosing being afforded to all of holy faith and fervent prayer as Elijah.

And which relates to the binding and loosing provision of Matthew 18:18; John 20:23, in which the provision for binding and loosing is given to the church, beginning with the pastors. Which has two aspects, one of which pertains to judicial judgments such as in disciplining members in union with the church. (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:4,5) In which God binds or looses what the church under magisterial leadership does if in His name - consistent with His will and character, as with the promise of prayer in His name: John 14:14 - led by the pastors, and they in turn are to forgive those whom the church forgives. 2 Corinthians 2:9–11)

This spiritual binding and loosing is also seen in the OT, in which a father or husband could loose his daughter or his wife, respectively, from vows made them. (Numbers 30)

Also, the OT magisterium had the power to bind one in guilt or loose the same, dissent from which was a capital offense. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13) Paul as Saul had authority from the chief priests to bind those who called on the name of Christ, (Acts 9:14) and even civil powers are called ministers of God who can bind or loose, physically in this case. (Romans 13:1-7) However, as with all earthly authority, this does not translate into sovereign autocratic spiritual authority in that God consents to whatever men do or ask, though they invoke His name in so doing.

For this power of judgment presumes (as in promises for prayer) that it is right and indeed done in the name of Christ (consistent with His character and will as representatives of Him). Thus if the one offended unjustly charged one as guilty, God would not (as in the case of the OT magisterial powers condemning Christ, yet those who chose to no hold any charges against those who crucified them in their spiritual blindness).

Likewise if the one offended was penitent and those who were offended refused to drop the charges they held against him, then they would actually incur judgement. Yet if one claims forgiveness based upon such texts as 1 John 1:9 for a actual sin that damaged others and did not confess it and seek to make amends, and the offended party brought charges before God in seeking judgment, then I do not think God would forgive, but would chastise the person if they refused to deal with it, perhaps after space was given for them to effectually repent.

And the disciplinary binding and loosing of 1 Corinthians 5:4,5, this power also pertains to spiritual power, which is a provision with a scope that is not restricted to the clergy. For while Catholics invoke Matthew 18:15-18 and James 5:14,15 as if only their priests have the power of binding and loosing, yet even though we should tell pastors of our spiritual state, and especially of wilful serious sins, and church discipline is under their leadership - and pastors who themselves sin are to suffer public rebuke - (1 Timothy 5:19,20) yet both confessing sins and the provision of binding and loosing is not restricted to clergy (and certainly not to Catholic priests).

For what follows Matthew 18:15-18 is the promise to all believers in true unity in the name of Christ:

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18-20)

And note that the context of Mt. 18:15-18 is that of forgiving personal offenses (though it can in principal extend beyond that) and thus Peter next asks about how many times he is to forgive those who wronged him, meaning to loose one from the claims of judgment against him, and which again, is not restricted to clergy, but who are to forgive those whom you forgive, and whom the church forgives, as in 2 Corinthians 2:9–11.

Likewise, extending beyond the matter of binding or loosing one from the personal claims of judgment, is that which was shown before, that of spiritually binding and loosing as Elijah exampled in binding the sky from raining and loosing them again (which was that of a judgment and a release from the same). Which manner is a provision for all of holy faith and fervent prayer as Elijah (which i come very short of), and James 5:17-20 speaks of this in relation to believers confessing to each others, who also can "hide a multitude of sins" as instruments of conversion. Thanks be to God.

13. Never supported or made laws that restricted personal reading of Scripture by laity (contrary to Chrysostom), if able and available, sometimes even outlawing it when it was. Instead, the Spirit commends truth-loving souls who searched the OT Scriptures in order to ascertain the veracity of apostolic preaching. (Acts 17:11) Nor official Bibles with required notes, which often teach (for decades) liberal revisionism (such as denying O.T. historical and miraculous accounts as literal, as do study helps in those versions.

14. Never used the sword of men to deal with its theological dissenters.

15. Never taught that the deity Muslims worship (who is not as an "unknown god") is the same as theirs.

16. Never prayed to anyone in Heaven but the Lord, despite prayer being a most fundamental and common practice, with the Holy Spirit recording approx. 200 prayers in Scripture, nor were we instructed to (i.e. "our Mother who art in Heaven"), even though there were plenty of angels to prayer to, and ascended OT saints after the Lord's resurrection. Moreover, Scripture only manifestly testifies that God alone is able and privileged to hear and respond from Heaven to virtually unlimited prayers addressed to there from earth, mental or vocal, while two-way communication between created beings required both to somehow be in the same location, and was not that of hearing prayer in Heaven (which the offering of prayer in memorial before judgment in Rv. 5:8 and 8:4 does not teach)

17. Never knelled before a statue. praising the entity it represented in the unseen world, even with adulation, attributes, glory and titles never given in Scripture to created beings (except to false gods), including having the uniquely Divine power glory to hear and respond to virtually infinite numbers of prayers addressed to them, and beseeching such for Heavenly help, and making offerings to them. Which would constitute worship in Scripture, yet Catholics imagine by playing word games they avoid crossing the invisible line between mere "veneration" and worship.

18. Never recorded a women who never sinned, and was a perpetual virgin despite being married (contrary to the normal description of marriage, as in leaving and sexually cleaving: Gn. 2:24; cf. Ruth 3:9) and who would be bodily assumed to Heaven (despite lack of evidence) and exalted (officially or with implicit sanction) as,

an almost almighty demigoddess to whom "Jesus owes His Precious Blood" to,

whose [Mary] merits we are saved by,

who "had to suffer, as He did, all the consequences of sin,"

and was bodily assumed into Heaven, which is a fact (unsubstantiated in Scripture or even early Tradition) because the Roman church says it is, and "was elevated to a certain affinity with the Heavenly Father,"

and whose power now "is all but unlimited,"

for indeed she "seems to have the same power as God,"

"surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven,"

so that "the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse."

and that “sometimes salvation is quicker if we remember Mary's name then if we invoked the name of the Lord Jesus,"

for indeed saints have "but one advocate," and that is Mary, who "alone art truly loving and solicitous for our salvation,"

Moreover, "there is no grace which Mary cannot dispose of as her own, which is not given to her for this purpose,"

and who has "authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven,"

including "assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels,"

whom the good angels "unceasingly call out to," greeting her "countless times each day with 'Hail, Mary,' while prostrating themselves before her, begging her as a favour to honour them with one of her requests,"

and who (obviously) cannot "be honored to excess,"

and who is (obviously) the glory of Catholic people, whose "honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation." Sources and more. Top^

2. Table of contrasts between the New Testament church and Roman Catholicism.


Teaching as manifested by the NT church

Commentary (just short refutations, for by God's grace defenders of Rome have been refuted time and time again into silence or to resorting to ad hominem attacks in lieu of a valid argument).


No apostles elected by voting.

No successors after Judas, with the only continuously perpetuated pastoral office by way of ordination being that of presbuteros/episkopos.

Peter as as non-assertive street-level leader among the 11, with no succession or preparation for one.

No corporate view of Peter as the first of a line of supreme infallible popes in Rome.

Nowhere in the NT, interpretive of Mt. 16:18, is Peter called or described as the Rock upon which the church was built.

No leadership claiming/possessing ensured perpetual infallibility.

No leadership with a unique sacrificial function, offering food as sacrifice for sins.

No leadership distinctively titled “hiereus” (priests): only presbuteros/ episkopos (same office: Titus 1:5-7).

The primary function of pastors was that of prayer and preaching the word of God.

No required celibacy for leadership. Most were married.

Never manifestly saw mention or intimation of preparation to choose a successor for Peter by electing a elder as a apostolic successor, as Matthias was chosen for Judas, conveying total supreme papal authority. For support, RCs invoke Matthias being chosen for Judas (which was in order to maintain the foundational number of apostles, :cf. Rv. 21:14) which was by the non-political Scriptural means of casting lots, (cf. Prov. 16:33)) which Rome has never used to select popes.

Furthermore, Although Rome's so-called apostolic successors do not claim to be apostles, yet as popes they presume ensured infallibity as being an attribute of the apostle Peter and for ecumenical councils with him, though this was not an ensured charism, and Romes popes fail (as I do also) of the overall character, attributes, qualifications and credentials of manifest Biblical apostles, in all things approving themselves as the ministers of God, (2 Corinthians 6:4; Acts 1:21,22; 1Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:11,12; 2Cor. 6:4-10; 12:12)

Peter was the initial, non-assertive street-level leader among the 11, once even listed after James (who provided the conclusive judgment in Acts 15) in Gal. 2 as one of 3 present who appeared to be pillars. To whom Rome's ensured perpetual formulaic infallibility is nowhere promised, and in contrast holy (he was) Peter was the only apostle directly publicly rebuked.

The absence of any succession for Peter or preparation for one is seen in the NT, an incongruous conspicuous omission for a cardinal doctrine, while ordination of leaders is described and taught. For the only continuously perpetuated pastoral office (unless deacons are included) by way of formal ordination was that of presbuteros (senior/elder) or episkopos (superintendent/overseer), both of which refer to those in the same office. (Titus 1:5-7)

Nowhere is the church described as looking to Peter as the first of a line of supreme infallible heads in Rome, nor told to even in any of the church epistles or in the Lord's commendations and criticisms of the 7 churches of Asia.

Nowhere interpretive of Mt. 16:18 is Peter called or described as the Rock upon which the church was built. Instead, that the LORD Jesus is the Rock (“petra”) or "stone" (“lithos,” and which denotes a large rock in Mk. 16:4) upon which the church is built is one of the most abundantly confirmed doctrines in the Bible (petra: Rm. 9:33; 1Cor. 10:4; 1Pet. 2:8; cf. Lk. 6:48; 1Cor. 3:11; lithos: Mat. 21:42; Mk.12:10-11; Lk. 20:17-18; Act. 4:11; Rm. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; cf. Dt. 32:4, Is. 28:16) including by Peter himself. (1Pt. 2:4-8)

Nowhere is leadership/magisterial office promised ensured perpetual infallibility. RCs extrapolate support for this out of promises of God's presence and preservation, but which Israel has as well. They also hold that an infallible magisterium is essential to know what is of God (writing and men) and their meaning, but which was never required before, and is contrary to how the church began.

Nowhere is leadership distinctively titled “hiereus” (priests), which distinctive title is only used for Jewish and pagan priests. Catholics try to defend the use of priests by relying on an etymological fallacy , since "priest," from old English "preost," etymologically is derived from "presbyteros," but which is not what the latter means. Instead the use of the title priests was a latter development due to imposed functional equivalence, supposing NT presbyteros engaged in a unique sacrificial ministry as a primary function, which they did not.

Nowhere is leadership even shown distributing food as part of their specific ordained function, (Acts 6:3,4) and is nowhere is the Lords' Supper shown to be led by priests conducting it, let alone offering it as a sacrifice for sins to be consumed to obtain eternal life. The command to “do this in memory of Me” is nowhere shown to be specifically and uniquely given to leadership, let alone a class titled “priests.”

The primary function of pastors was that of prayer and preaching the word of God, (Acts 6:3,4) which is said to "nourish" the souls of believers, and believing it is how the lost obtain life in themselves. (1 Timothy 4:6; Psalms 19:7;Acts 15:7-9)

Nowhere is celibacy a requirement for leadership, as in contrast marriage was the norm for pastors, include most of the apostles. Paul and Barnabas under a vow to stay single. (1Cor. 9:4; 1Tim. 3:1-7)

The Lord's Supper

An ordinance by which that believers remember the Lord's death and show fellowship with Christ by a commemorative shared meal.

Nowhere is spiritual life obtaining by literally eating anything physical. Instead, spiritual life is obtained by hearing and believing the gospel of grace.

Nowhere, interpretive of of the gospels, is the Lord's Supper itself described as offering for sin, or to be consumed in order to obtain essential spiritual life. Instead is only described in one epistle and in which it is analogous to pagans having fellowship with their gods, not by consuming their flesh, but by the communal meal done in dedication to the object of worship.

By which believers remember the Lord's death and fellowship with Christ by a commemorative communal meal, sharing food in recognition of each other being part of the body of Christ which He purchased with His own sinless shed blood.

Only the metaphorical See here. By God's grace.

Nowhere is spiritual life obtaining by literally eating anything physical, as per transubstantiation. Spiritual life is obtained by hearing and believing the gospel of grace, which is said to "nourish" the souls of believers and build them up (1 Timothy 4:6; Acts 20:32)


An ordinance by which souls confess the Lord Jesus, identifying with Him in His death by full immersion.

It is the faith behind baptism that purifies the heart, not the act itself effecting it.

Nowhere are any infants manifestly described as being baptized.

Souls confess and identify with the Lord Jesus in baptism by full immersion, as that alone corresponds to burial (as a liquid grave) and is what the Greek word means. (Acts 8:38; Rm. 6:1ff)

It is the faith behind baptism that purifies the heart, as Peter preached and described, (Acts 10:43; 15:7-9) not the act itself effecting it. As baptism requires and evidences faith, so it is promised that those who will repent and baptized will be saved, just as whosoever shall call upon the Lord, who believe in their heart and confess with their mouth faith in the gospel are promised salvation. (Rm. 10:9-13)

Nowhere are any infants manifestly described as being baptized, the stipulated requirements for which are repentance and wholehearted faith. (Acts 2:38; 8:36,37) .

Gospel and soteriology

Preached the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, and forgiveness of sins and regeneration by the Spirit of God by faith, which is counted for righteousness, but which is a faith that is (normally) confessed first in baptism.

Believers are promised forgiveness of sins and regeneration by the Spirit of God by faith in the Lord Jesus who died for us and whom God raised up. As a result, their faith (a living faith, such as is confessed in baptism and following the Lord) is counted for righteousness, and the believer is washed, sanctified and justified on account of thew sinless and perfect Christ, not their own righteousness. (Rm. 3:10- 5:1; 1Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5)

The merit of works is excluded as the basis for justification, with “works of the law” usually being used as that is the epitome of salvation by merit. "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." (Galatians 3:21) When Abraham believed God to do what he could not do then it was counted unto him for righteousness, though he had done works before that. Likewise we must believe God to do what we cannot not do, that is, to justify ourselves by becoming good enough to be with God, which God does by imputation of righteousness by faith in the Jesus Christ the righteous.

In contrast, Catholicism teaches that most believers must spend an indeterminate postmortem time suffering “purifying torments” in mythical “Purgatory” until the subject becomes good enough, free of character defects (and atone for sins) to be with God.

Works/holiness do have a justificatory effect, that of justifying one as being a believer, and fit to be rewarded under grace, with God rewarding God-given faith in recognition of the works He is actually the inspiration and enabler of. (Mt. 25:31-40; Heb. 6:9,10; 10:35; Rv. 3:4; Phil. 2:13) For even in conversion, man is both enabled and motivated (Jn. 6:44; 16:8-11; 12:32; Acts 11:18; 16:14; Eph. 2:8,9) to do what he otherwise could not and would not do, and then God enables and motivates the believer to live for God. (Phil. 2:13; 1Co. 11:32)

Thus while Trent uses such language as, "If anyone says that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God...does not truly merit...the attainment of eternal life itself...let him be anathema." (Trent, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 32) Scripture states that man actually merits damnation, while eternal life is a gift, (Rm. 6:23) and the only sense in which man may be said to merit rewards is that of God in unmerited favor promising to reward the faith of believers, though He is the One who is actually worthy of credit for all effects of faith.

However, while believers cannot choose God apart from Him granting and motivating it, man by nature can (and does) choose to sin, and are warned against having an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, falling from grace, drawing back into perdition, making Christ of no effect/profit, falling from grace. (Heb. 3:12; 10:38; Gal. 5:1-4) Thus God works to chasten wayward souls to repentance, lest they “be condemned with the rest of the world.” (1Co. 11:32) Glory be to God.


All true believers go to forever be with the Lord at death or at His return, the latter being the next transformative event believers look to (not “Purgatory”) . After which is the only suffering believers will realize, that being the loss of rewards.

What Scripture teaches wherever it manifestly speaks about the next life, is that since believers are forgiven on account of Christ, on His merit, then all true believers presently are “accepted in the Beloved,” and made to sit together with Christ in the heavenly, (Eph. 1:6;2:6) and go to forever be with the Lord at death or at His return. it is always with the Lord. (Lk. 23:43 [cf. 2Cor. 12:4; Rv. 2:7]; Phil 1:23; 2Cor. 5:8 [“we”]; 1Cor. 15:51ff'; 1Thess. 4:17) Note in the latter case all believers were assured that if the Lord returned, which they expected in their lifetime, so would they “ever be with the Lord.” (1Thes. 4:17) though they were still undergoing growth in grace, as was Paul. (Phil. 3;2)

And which is the next transformative event believers looked to in the NT church, that of being conformed to Christ at the resurrection of believers at the coming of the Lord. (2Cor. 5:2,3; 1Cor. 15; 1Jn. 3:2)

And after the Lord's coming is the judgment seat of Christ, with its giving and loss of rewards (Mt. 16:27; 1Cor. 3:8-17; 4:5; Rm. 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10; 1Thes. 2:19; 2Tim. 4:1,8; Rev.11:18; ; 1Pt. 1:7; 5:4; cf. Mt. 13:30,39; 25:31-46; Jn. 5:29; Rev. 20:5,6) based on the quality of the material they used to build the church with. Tares defile the church and will be burned, (Mt. 13:30,39; 1Cor. 3:17) while true believers are "crowns" (1 Thess. 2:19; Phil. 4:1) and rejoicing "in the day of the Lord Jesus" (2Cor. 1:14) for those who provided them (presumably directly or indirectly). But the loss (1Cor. 3:14,15) of fruit and rewards (along with the implicit grievous displeasure of the Lord) is the only suffering mentioned for believers after leaving this world (versus purgatory, which has souls suffering upon death). And which loss is not that of personal defects but the fruit of such as providing material for building the Lord's church, and which loss the believer is saved despite of, not because of. (1Cor. 3:15)

Scripture also only reveals growth in grace and overcoming and prolonged suffering as being realized in this world, with its temptations and trials, (1 Peter 1:6-7; 1Jn.2:14; 5:4,5; Rv. 2.7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21) where alternatives to submitting to God can be made (suffering itself does not make one mature) and thus it was here that the Lord Himself was made “perfect,” (Heb. 2:10) as in being “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)


Scripture is manifest as being the transcendent supreme standard for obedience and testing and establishing truth claims as the wholly Divinely inspired and assured, Word of God.

Scriptural substantiation in word and in power was the basis for the veracity of Truth claims.

Never supported or made laws that restricted personal reading of Scripture by laity

It is abundantly evidenced that the word of God/the Lord was normally written, even if sometimes subsequent to being spoken, and that as written, the written word of God became the transcendent supreme standard for obedience and testing and establishing truth claims as the wholly Divinely inspired and assured, Word of God.

And which testifies (Lk. 24:27,44; Acts 17:2,11; 18:28; 28:23, etc.) to writings of God being recognized and established as being so (essentially due to their unique and enduring heavenly qualities and attestation), and thus they materially provide for a canon of Scripture (as well as for reason, the church, etc.)

Scriptural substantiation in word and in power was the basis for Truth claims, not the premise of ensured papal/magisterial infallibility, which is nowhere seen or promised nor necessary to preserve faith.

Never supported or made laws that restricted personal reading of Scripture by laity as per Rome, if available, sometimes even locally outlawing it when it was.

Oral tradition

Oral “tradition” was that of orally preaching Scriptural Truths, as a Sola Scriptura preacher is to do. Yet it also included new revelation as well as wholly inspired preaching of the word of God.

Nowhere was the veracity of oral tradition based upon the premise of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility.

Oral “tradition” was that of orally preaching Scriptural Truths, even by the whole church, (Acts 8:4) as a Sola Scriptura preacher is to do. However, it sometimes affirmed things as true which had been passed down outside Scripture, (cf. 2:Tim. 3:8) though not necessarily as simply existing as oral truths, and Scripture also affirmed parts of writings such as from the book of Enoch, (Jude 1:14,15) thus separating wheat from tares.

The NT sometimes included new revelation as part of the inspired preaching of the word of God (which is uniquely anointed and powerful: Heb. 4:12, and not simply truth), neither of which Rome claims to do (she claims her oral tradition is inspired, but not the words of her of promulgation of it, even while claiming infallibility).

If someone wants to claim some oral preaching is equal to Scripture as the word of God, then they must claim that they are speaking as wholly inspired of God. The word of God is not simply True, but it has an anointing that sets it apart from other words, (Heb. 4:12) and thus such became established as being of God, without compulsion to include it.

However, Rome presumes that she can declare that other teachings are also the inspired word of God, but this is not how both men and writings of God were established as being so. For instead of the assurance of these (and even that of Scripture) being of God resting upon the premise of ensured magisterial infallibility as per Rome, both men and writings of God were discerned and established as being so due to their Divine qualities and attestation, sometimes in dissent from the historical magisterium and stewards of Divine revelation.

Furthermore, it is inclusion in Scripture that assures that such statements as that of 2:Tim. 3:8 and Jude 1:14,15 were of God. The magisterium is to affirm this, yet what is God remains so and authoritative regardless. By making herself the surety that both the writings of Scripture and the teachings of oral tradition are of God then Rome has presumed to speak as wholly Divinely inspired of God, even if she denies that she does.

Nowhere was the veracity of oral tradition based upon the the novel and unScriptural premise of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility as per Rome, but as written, Scripture became the transcendent substantive standard by which truth claims were tested and established by, in word and in power. (Acts 17:11; Lk. 24:44; Heb. 2:1-4)


Prayer directly to God by the blood of Christ, who is the only heavenly intercessor between God and man.

Never prayed to any created beings in Heaven.

Nowhere in all of Scripture, with its approx. 200 recorded prayers, did any believer pray to anyone else in Heaven but God, who alone is shown to be able to hear and personally respond to multitudinous prayers to Heaven. The Lord's own instructions on prayer was to pray to “Our Father who art in Heaven,” to whom the Spirit in believers cries out to, never to “Our Mother.”

Communication between created beings always required both to be in the same realm, even if via a vision, versus personal and corporate prayer from those on earth to God in Heaven.

Christ is taught as being the only (and wholly sufficient and accessible) heavenly intercessor between God and man. (1Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:18 4:14-16)


Mary simply presented as a holy devout Spirit-filled vessel of God, used to provide the body God had prepared for His Divine Son, and care for, though she owed her existence to Him.

No prayers were made to her, while she prayed directly to the Lord, nor are many other things taught of her that are said by Catholics of the Mary of Catholicism.

Mary is presented in Scripture as a holy vessel of God used to provide the body God had prepared, (Heb. 10:5) owing her very breath to the Son of God who was incarnated through her, (Jn. 1:1-3) and whom she was a mother to. Which Christ said all obedient believers were. (Mt. 12:50)

Scripture never records her as a women who never sinned, and or as a perpetual virgin despite being married (contrary to the normal description of marriage, as in leaving and sexually cleaving: Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:5), nor as one who would be bodily assumed to Heaven and exalted (officially or with implicit sanction) as the Queen of Heaven, as an almost almighty demigoddess.

Scripture does not teach the Mary of Catholicism, to whom "Jesus owes His Precious Blood" to. Whose [Mary] merits we are saved by; who "had to suffer, as He did, all the consequences of sin;" whose power now "is all but unlimited," "surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven," so much that she "seems to have the same power as God," that “even God himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin” since her prayers and requests are as commands, and that "the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse," and that “sometimes salvation is quicker if we remember Mary's name then if we invoked the name of the Lord Jesus," and who (obviously) cannot "be honored to excess."


Worship was to God alone, with such things as making supplication to other beings in heaven being idolatry.

Worship was to be to God alone in spirit and in Truth, (Jn. 4:24) with ascribing uniquely Divine attributes to created beings, including the ability to hear and personally respond to prayer in Heaven, and bowing down as before them (or their representative images) and making supplication to them, constituting idolatry, (Jer. 44; Acts 7:43) even if it was an instrument used by God. (Num. 21:9; 2Ki. 18:4)


• “Saints” in Scripture denotes all believers.

God is distinctive from that of the known God of pagans.

The church did not rule over those without, nor use the sword of men for church purposes.

The NT never called a separate class of believers “saints,” which term denoted all believers.

Never taught that the deity Muslims worship (who is not as an "unknown god") is the same as theirs.

Never used the sword of men to deal with its theological dissenters, as instead disfellowship and the spiritual power was their recourse, and relegated dealing with those without the church to being outside their realm. (1Cor. 5:4,5,11-13; 1Tim. 1:20)


3. Historical testimony to the progressive deformation of the church

In the past Rome has made claims such as, “The Roman the will of Christ obtains primacy of jurisdiction over all other Churches. These declarations were preceded by the consent of antiquity which ever acknowledged, without the slightest doubt or hesitation, the Bishops of Rome, and revered them, as the legitimate successors of St. Peter.” (Satis Cognitum, encyclical of Pope Leo XII, June 29, 1896)


Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission.” (CCC 812;

However, both Catholic scholarship and research from without provides evidence contrary to such propaganda, and instead supplies testimony to the progressive deformation of the church, and contrary to the premise of a perpetuated infallible (if conditional) Petrine papacy, from which her authority flows.

Development of the Roman papacy and related issues, from Catholic sources as well as others (bold emphasis of any works is mine)

Catholic theologian and a Jesuit priest Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops (New York: The Newman Press), examines possible mentions of “succession” from the first three centuries, and concludes from that study that,

the episcopate [development of bishops] is a the fruit of a post New Testament development,” and cannot concur with those [interacting with Jones] who see little reason to doubt the notion that there was a single bishop in Rome through the middle of the second century:

Hence I stand with the majority of scholars who agree that one does not find evidence in the New Testament to support the theory that the apostles or their coworkers left [just] one person as “bishop” in charge of each local church...

As the reader will recall, I have expressed agreement with the consensus of scholars that available evidence indicates that the church of Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century...

Hence I cannot agree with Jones's judgment that there seems little reason to doubt the presence of a bishop in Rome already in the first century.

...the evidence both from the New Testament and from such writings as I Clement, the Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians and The Shepherd of Hennas favors the view that initially the presbyters in each church, as a college, possessed all the powers needed for effective ministry. This would mean that the apostles handed on what was transmissible of their mandate as an undifferentiated whole, in which the powers that would eventually be seen as episcopal were not yet distinguished from the rest. Hence, the development of the episcopate would have meant the differentiation of ministerial powers that had previously existed in an undifferentiated state and the consequent reservation to the bishop of certain of the powers previously held collegially by the presbyters.Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops , pp. 221,222,224

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (dialog with Lutherans):(9) Any biblical and historical scholar today would consider anachronistic the question whether Jesus constituted Peter the first pope, since this question derives from a later model of the papacy which it projects back into the New Testament.10 Such a reading helps neither papal opponents nor papal supporters. Therefore terms such as "primacy" and "jurisdiction" are best avoided when one describes the role of Peter in the New Testament. Even without these terms, however, a wide variety of images is applied to Peter in the New Testament which signalizes his importance in the early church. (Differing Attitudes Toward Papal Primacy;

Klaus Schatz [Jesuit Father theologian, professor of church history at the St. George’s Philosophical and Theological School in Frankfurt] in his work, “Papal Primacy ,” pp. 1-4, finds:

New Testament scholars agree..., The further question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter’s lifetime, if posed in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative.

That is, if we ask whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or whether the authority of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter’s death, was aware that Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded him, the answer in both cases is probably 'no.”

....that does not mean that the figure and the commission of the Peter of the New Testament did not encompass the possibility, if it is projected into a Church enduring for centuries and concerned in some way to to secure its ties to its apostolic origins and to Jesus himself.

If we ask in addition whether the primitive church was aware, after Peter’s death, that his authority had passed to the next bishop of Rome, or in other words that the head of the community at Rome was now the successor of Peter, the Church’s rock and hence the subject of the promise in Matthew 16:18-19, the question, put in those terms, must certainly be given a negative answer.” (page 1-2)

[Schatz goes on to express that he does not doubt Peter was martyred in Rome, and that Christians in the 2nd century were convinced that Vatican Hill had something to do with Peter's grave.]

"Nevertheless, concrete claims of a primacy over the whole church cannot be inferred from this conviction. If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no." (page 3, top)

[Lacking such support for the modern concept of the primacy of the church of Rome with its papal jurisdiction, Schatz concludes that, “Therefore we must set aside from the outset any question such as 'was there a primacy in our sense of the word at that time?” Schatz. therefore goes on to seek support for that as a development.]

We probably cannot say for certain that there was a bishop of Rome [in 95 AD]. It is likely that the Roman church was governed by a group of presbyters from whom there very quickly emerged a presider or ‘first among equals’ whose name was remembered and who was subsequently described as ‘bishop’ after the mid-second century.” (Schatz 4).

Schatz additionally states,

Cyprian regarded every bishop as the successor of Peter, holder of the keys to the kingdom of heaven and possessor of the power to bind and loose. For him, Peter embodied the original unity of the Church and the episcopal office, but in principle these were also present in every bishop. For Cyprian, responsibility for the whole Church and the solidarity of all bishops could also, if necessary, be turned against Rome." — Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], p. 20)

Roman Catholic scholar William La Due (taught canon law at St. Francis Seminary and the Catholic University of America) on Cyprian:

....those who see in The Unity of the Catholic Church, in the light of his entire episcopal life, an articulation of the Roman primacy - as we have come to know it, or even as it has evolved especially from the latter fourth century on - are reading a meaning into Cyprian which is not there." (The Chair of Saint Peter: A History of the Papacy [Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1999], p. 39

The research of esteemed historian Peter Lampe* (Lutheran) also weighs against Rome:

The picture that finally emerges from Lampe’s analysis of surviving evidence is one he names ‘the fractionation of Roman Christianity’ (pp. 357–408). Not until the second half of the second century, under Anicetus, do we find compelling evidence for a monarchical episcopacy, and when it emerges, it is to manage relief shipments to dispersed Christians as well as social aid for the Roman poor (pp. 403–4). Before this period Roman Christians were ‘fractionated’ amongst dispersed house/tenement churches, each presided over by its own presbyter–bishop. This accounts for the evidence of social and theological diversity in second-century Roman Christianity, evidence of a degree of tolerance of theologically disparate groups without a single authority to regulate belief and practice, and the relatively late appearance of unambiguous representation of a single bishop over Rome. (Review of “Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries,” by Peter Lampe in Oxford’s Journal of Theological Studies, 2005)

(*Peter Lampe is a German Lutheran minister and theologian and Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Heidelberg, whose work, “From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries,” was written in 1987 and translated to English in 2003. The Catholic historian Eamon Duffy (Irish Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, and former President of Magdalene College), said “all modern discussion of the issues must now start from the exhaustive and persuasive analysis by Peter Lampe” — Saints and Sinners,” “A History of the Popes,” Yale, 1997, 2001, pg. 421).

But Cyprian helped provide foundation for the unScriptural papacy:

Paul Johnson, educated at the Jesuit independent school Stonyhurst College, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, author of over 40 books and a conservative popular historian, finds,

The Church was now a great and numerous force in the empire, attracting men of wealth and high education, inevitably, then, there occurred a change of emphasis from purely practical development in response to need, to the deliberate thinking out of policy. This expressed itself in two ways: the attempt to turn Christianity into a philosophical and political system, and the development of controlling devices to prevent this intellectualization of the faith from destroying it. The twin process began to operate in the early and middle decades of the third century, with Origen epitomizing the first element and Cyprian the second.

The effect of Origen’s work was to create a new science, biblical theology, whereby every sentence in the scriptures was systematically explored for hidden [much prone to metaphorical] meanings, different layers of meanings, allegory and so forth.....

Cyprian [c. 200 – September 14, 258] came from a wealthy family with a tradition of public service to the empire; within two years of his conversion he was made a bishop. He had to face the practical problems of persecution, survival and defence against attack. His solution was to gather together the developing threads of ecclesiastical order and authority and weave them into a tight system of absolute control...the confession of faith, even the Bible itself lost their meaning if used outside the Church.

With Cyprian, then, the freedom preached by Paul and based on the power of Christian truth was removed from the ordinary members of the Church, it was retained only by the bishops, through whom the Holy Spirit still worked, who were collectively delegated to represent the totality of Church members...With Bishop Cyprian, the analogy with secular government came to seem very close. But of course it lacked one element: the ‘emperor figure’ or supreme priest...

[Peter, according to Cyprian, was] the beneficiary of the famous ‘rock and keys’ text in Matthew. There is no evidence that Rome exploited this text to assert its primacy before about 250 - and then...Paul was eliminated from any connection with the Rome episcopate and the office was firmly attached to Peter alone...

...There was in consequence a loss of spirituality or, as Paul would have put it, of freedom... -(A History of Christianity, by Paul Johnson, pp. 51 -61,63. transcribed using OCR software)

Roman Catholic [if liberal and critical] Garry Wills, Professor of History Emeritus, Northwestern U., author of “Why i am a Catholic,” states,

"The idea that Peter was given some special power that could be handed on to a successor runs into the problem that he had no successor. The idea that there is an "apostolic succession" to Peter's fictional episcopacy did not arise for several centuries, at which time Peter and others were retrospectively called bishops of Rome, to create an imagined succession. Even so, there has not been an unbroken chain of popes. Two and three claimants existed at times, and when there were three of them each excommunicating the other two, they all had to be dethroned and the Council of Carthage started the whole thing over again in 1417." — WHAT JESUS MEANT, p. 81

American Roman Catholic priest and Biblical scholar Raymond Brown (twice appointed to Pontifical Biblical Commission), finds,

The claims of various sees to descend from particular members of the Twelve are highly dubious. It is interesting that the most serious of these is the claim of the bishops of Rome to descend from Peter, the one member of the Twelve who was almost a missionary apostle in the Pauline sense – a confirmation of our contention that whatever succession there was from apostleship to episcopate, it was primarily in reference to the Puauline type of apostleship, not that of the Twelve.” (“Priest and Bishop, Biblical Reflections,” Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, 1970, pg 72.)

Further deformation of the church was seen under Damasus 1 (366-384) who is reported to have begun his reign by employing a gang of thugs in seeking to secure his chair, which carried out a three-day massacre of his rivals supporters. Yet true to form, Rome made him a "saint."

Upon Pope Liberius's death September 24 A.D. 366, violent disorders broke out over the choice of a successor. A group who had remained consistently loyal to Liberius immediately elected his deacon Ursinus in the Julian basilica and had him consecrated Bishop, but the rival faction of Felix's adherence elected Damasus, who did not hesitate to consolidate his claim by hiring a gang of thugs, storming the Julian Basilica in carrying out a three-day massacre of the Ursinians.

On Sunday, October 1 his partisans seized the Lateran Basilica, and he was there consecrated. He then sought the help of the city prefect (the first occasion of a Pope in enlisting the civil power against his adversaries), and he promptly expelled Ursinus and his followers from Rome. Mob violence continued until October 26, when Damasus's men attacked the Liberian Basilica, where the Ursinians had sought refuge; the pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus reports that they left 137 dead on the field. Damasus was now secure on his throne; but the bishops of Italy were shocked by the reports they received, and his moral authority was weakened for several years....

Damasus was indefatigable in promoting the Roman primacy, frequently referring to Rome as 'the apostolic see' and ruling that the test of a creed's orthodoxy was its endorsement by the Pope.... This [false claim to] succession gave him a unique [presumptuous claim to] judicial power to bind and loose, and the assurance of this infused all his rulings on church discipline. — Kelly, J. N. D. (1989). The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 32 ,34;

Another ancient narrative of events, the "Gesta" (dated to 368 A.D.), provides more detail. It describes Ursinus as being the valid successor to Liberius, and Damasus as following a heretical interloper, Felix. This account also records that an armed force instigated by Damasus broke into into the Basilica of Julius and a three-day slaughtering of those assembled there took place. After gaining control of the Lateran basilica Damasus was then ordained as bishop in the cathedral of Rome. However, Damasus was accused of bribing the urban officials of Rome to have Ursinus and chief supporters exiled, including some presbyters. As a result of this attempt, some of (the apparently quite numerous) supporters of Ursinus interrupted this process and rescued the presbyters, taking them to the Basilica of Liberius (identified as the “basilica of Sicinnius”), the apparent headquarters of the Ursinian sect. Damasus then responded by ordering an attack against the Liberian basilica, resulting in another massacre: "They broke down the doors and set fire underneath it, then rushed in...and killed a hundred and sixty of the people inside, both men and women.” Damasus next sent a final assault against some Ursinian supporters who had fled to the cemetery of Saint Agnes, slaying many. (The First Pontiff: Pope Damasus I and the Expansion of the Roman Primacy , pp. 15,33-34)

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The primacy of the Apostolic See, variously favoured in the time of Damasus by imperial acts and edicts, was strenuously maintained by this pope... (Catholic Encyclopedia>Pope St. Damasus I)

Eamon Duffy (Former president of Magdalene College and member of Pontifical Historical Commission, and current Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge) and provides more on the Roman church becoming more like the empire in which it was found as a result of state adoption of (an already deformed) Christianity:

The conversion of Constantine had propelled the Bishops of Rome into the heart of the Roman establishment...They [bishops of Rome] set about [creating a Christian Rome] by building churches, converting the modest tituli (community church centres) into something grander, and creating new and more public foundations, though to begin with nothing that rivaled the great basilicas at the Lateran and St. Peter’s...

These churches were a mark of the upbeat confidence of post-Constantinian Christianity in Rome. The popes were potentates, and began to behave like it. Damasus perfectly embodied this growing grandeur. An urbane career cleric like his predecessor Liberius, at home in the wealthy salons of the city, he was also a ruthless power-broker, and he did not he did not hesitate to mobilize both the city police and [a hired mob of gravediggers with pickaxes] to back up his rule…

Self-consciously, the popes began to model their actions and their style as Christian leaders on the procedures of the Roman state. — Eamon Duffy “Saints and Sinners”, p. 37,38


The Bishop of Rome assumed [circa sixth century] the position of Ponlifex Maximus, priest and temporal ruler in one, and the workings of this so-called spiritual kingdom, with bishops as senators, and priests as leaders of the army, followed on much the same lines as the empire. The analogy was more complete when monasteries were founded and provinces were won and governed by the Church. - Welbore St. Clair Baddeley, Lina Duff Gordon, “Rome and its story” p. 176

Even some esteemed Roman Catholic theologians today recognize that the Papacy as it now exists is of late origin. W. DeVries admits,

...throughout the first ten centuries Rome never claimed to have been granted its preferred position of jurisdiction as an explicit privilege” (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism by Methodios Fouyas, p. 70).

Avery Dulles considers the development of the Papacy to be an historical accident:

The strong centralization in modern Catholicism is due to historical accident. It has been shaped in part by the homogeneous culture of medieval Europe and by the dominance of Rome, with its rich heritage of classical culture and legal organization” (Models of the Church by Avery Dulles, p. 200)

Pope Gregory was concerned that the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. John the Faster, had accepted the title of Ecumenical (or Universal) Patriarch. He condemned any such title for the following reasons: 

First, anyone who would use such a title would have fallen into pride, equal to the anti-Christ. He wrote: “I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is by his pride, the precursor of anti-Christ, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of anti-Christ; for as that wicked one wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would call himself sole bishop exalteth himself above others” (Ibid., 226). 

Second, St. Gregory believed that such a title would be perilous to the Church. “It cannot be denied that if any one bishop be called universal, all the Church crumbles if that universal one fall” (Ibid., p. 223). 

Also, Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” states,

At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church. (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).

Eastern Orthodox scholarship (while maintaining her shared accretion of errors of "tradition" as the "one true church") also adds voice to this,

Roman Catholicism, unable to show a continuity of faith and in order to justify new doctrine, erected in the last century, a theory of "doctrinal development. Following the philosophical spirit of the time (and the lead of Cardinal Henry Newman)..."

All the stages are useful, all are resources; and the theologian may appeal to the Fathers, for example, but they may also be contradicted by something else, something higher or newer. On this basis, theories such as the dogmas of "papal infallibility" and "the immaculate conception" of the Virgin Mary (about which we will say more) are justifiably presented to the Faithful as necessary to their salvation. -

Some Catholics thus try to argue that the reason for now-exposed the "cloaking" of this Roman papacy is due to it not being contested, likening it to the doctrine of the Trinity, as Cardinal Newman argued, yet in so doing he admits what before would be considered heretical to state:

While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope. . . . St. Peter’s prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. . . . When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred….there was no formal acknowledgment of the doctrine of the Trinity till the Fourth [century]. (John Henry Newman, Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Notre Dame edition, pp. 165-67).

But which argument by analogy (to the Trinity) is specious. For it is clear that God is infallible, almighty and eternal by nature, and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are explicitly and implicitly referred to as God in word and in deed, with Christ especially having uniquely Divine attributes, glory and titles ascribed to Him, even though the Trinity was only later precisely and formally formulated as a doctrine in the NT.

In contrast, the manner of corporate leadership of the people of God in Scripture has always been made manifest, and while Peter is shown in Scripture as being the street-level leader among brethren, and the first to use the “keys” to the kingdom of God, that being the gospel, and who exercised a general pastoral role, but who could fail, yet nowhere is he presented as being the supreme exalted infallible head whom the church looked as such, much less in Rome.

Nor is there any manifest successor for any apostle after Judas, or preparations for one, nor allowance for legitimate successors being men who would not even meet the qualifications for being a church member, let alone a supreme head. See here on The Peter of Scripture versus that of Rome.

Additional deformation in the form of religious syncretism is testified to by Newman:

"We are told in various ways by Eusebius [Note 16], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. {374} 

Greeks dedicate images to devils, and call them gods; but we to True God Incarnate, and to God's servants and friends, who drive away the troops of devils." [Note 18] Again, "As the holy Fathers overthrew the temples and shrines of the devils, and raised in their places shrines in the {377} names of Saints and we worship them, so also they overthrew the images of the devils, and in their stead raised images of Christ, and God's Mother, and the Saints. And under the Old Covenant, Israel neither raised temples in the name of men, nor was memory of man made a festival; for, as yet, man's nature was under a curse, and death was condemnation, and therefore was lamented, and a corpse was reckoned unclean and he who touched it; but now that the Godhead has been combined with our nature, as some life-giving and saving medicine, our nature has been glorified and is trans-elemented into incorruption. Wherefore the death of Saints is made a feast, and temples are raised to them, and Images are painted ... (John Henry Newman [made a cardinal by Pope Leo III in 1879]; Application of the Third Note of a True Development—Assimilative Power, Chapter 8;


The sixth century found Rome sunk too low by war and pestilence for many churches to be built; but at this time took place the transformation of ancient buildings into Christian shrines. Instead of despising the relics of paganism, the Roman priesthood prudently gathered to themselves all that could be adopted from the old world. Gregorovius remarks that the Christian religion had grown up side by side with the empire, which this new power was ready to replace when the Emperor withdrew to the East. - Welbore St. Clair Baddeley, Lina Duff Gordon, “Rome and its story” p. 176


Falsified history of the Roman church was also instrumental in the development of her unScriptural papacy and power.

Johnson writes,

Eusebius presents the lists as evidence that orthodoxy had a continuous tradition from the earliest times in all the great Episcopal sees and that all the heretical movements were subsequent aberrations from the mainline of Christianity.

Looking behind the lists, however, a different picture emerges. In Edessa, on the edge of the Syrian desert, the proofs of the early establishment of Christianity were forgeries, almost certainly manufactured under Bishop Kune, the first orthodox Bishop, and actually a contemporary of Eusebius...

Orthodoxy was not established [In Egypt] until the time of Bishop Demetrius, 189-231, who set up a number of other sees and manufactured a genealogical tree for his own bishopric of Alexandria, which traces the foundation through ten mythical predecessors back to Mark, and so to Peter and Jesus...

Even in Antioch, where both Peter and Paul had been active, there seems to have been confusion until the end of the second century. Antioch completely lost their list...When Eusebius’s chief source for his Episcopal lists, Julius Africanus, tried to compile one for Antioch, he found only six names to cover the same period of time as twelve in Rome and ten in Alexandria. (“A History of Christianity,” pgs 53ff;

English medievalist and critical Catholic researcher Roger J. H. Collins, writing of the Symmachan forgeries” describes these “pro-Roman” “enhancements” to history:

So too would the spurious historical texts written anonymously or ascribed to earlier authors that are known collectively as the Symmachan forgeries. This was the first occasion on which the Roman church had revisited its own history, in particular the third and fourth centuries, in search of precedents That these were largely invented does not negate the significance of the process...

Some of the periods in question, such as the pontificates of Sylvester (314–355) and Liberius (352–366), were already being seen more through the prism of legend than that of history, and in the Middle Ages texts were often forged because their authors were convinced of the truth of what they contained. Their faked documents provided tangible evidence of what was already believed true...

The Symmachan forgeries reinterpreted some of the more embarrassing episodes in papal history, both real and imaginary. … How convincing these forged texts seemed in the early sixth century is unknown, but when rediscovered in later centuries, they were regarded as authentic records with unequivocal legal authority...

It is no coincidence that the first systematic works of papal history appear at the very time the Roman church’s past was being reinvented for polemical purposes. (Collins, “Keepers of the Keys of Heaven, A History of the Papacy” pp 80-82).

An event of major historical importance for the future of the papacy was the conversion of the king of the Franks, Clovis, to Catholicism. From the historical standpoint it is certainly note-worthy that this conversion (probably in 496) occurred during the period in which many basic papal themes were germinating. The role which Constantine played within the Roman empire and its ecclesiastical organization, was to be played in the West by Clovis, called the new Constantine. While however the real Constantine's ecclesiastical policy was grafted on the ancient Roman structure, the Franks were in course of time to become vital instruments in the hands of the papacy...

Historically speaking, the conversion of Clovis provided the papacy with a platform from which it was able to deploy its own governmental schemes safely. Yet at exactly the same time the first internal ideological fissures began to shake the papacy in Reine. These were to lead to serious faction fights and tensions within the bosom of the Roman church. The significance of this internal papal situation was that two parties had constituted themselves, and these two parties were motivated by distinctly different outlooks, the one realizing the futility of carrying on within the confines and terms of the Roman empire, the other aiming at an appeasement of the imperial government in Constantinople....

This internal papal schism was the occasion which stimulated forgeries on a hitherto unknown scale. One of the so-called Symmachan forgeries (the name did not imply that the pope himself was involved) invented a synod held at Sinuessa during the reign of Diocletian in which speeches and statements were made that were to serve as a justification of the synod held in Rome in 501. Another forgery concocted one more council summoned and chaired by Pope Silvester (who rapidly gained legendary fame) in which the recently baptized Constantine also took part. According to this forgery a great number of decrees were issued, of which the last in particular attracted attention: 'Nobody can sit in judgment on the first (apostolic) see which distributes rightful justice to all. Neither the emperor nor the whole clergy nor kings nor people can judge the supreme judge.'...

These Symmachan forgeries exercised a very powerful influence, because they dealt with topics of direct concern to the papacy. They were included in a number ol collections of canon law and formed, so to speak, the backbone of the constitutional position of the pope. The sentence 'The first (apostolic) see cannot be judged by anyone' showed persuasively how clearly the forger had grasped the notion of the pope's personal sovereignty: he had not received power from those who had elected him, and hence they could not take it away. The pope, in other words, formed an estate of his own. One cannot be surprised that this statement still forms a vital clement in the present-day canon law (can. 1556}.

...less than two generations earlier two popes, Zosimus and Boniface I, had expressed a view which in substance was identical with the one contained in the forgery (see above p. 18). Where the forger scored was in his better and more concise and impressive diction. - Waiter Ulmann, "A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages," pp. 23,24

Wikipedia:The Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals (or False Decretals) are a set of extensive, influential medieval forgeries written by a scholar (or group of scholars) known as Pseudo-Isidore. The authors, using the pseudonym of Isidore Mercator, were probably a group of Frankish clerics writing in the second quarter of the 9th century. To defend the position of bishops against metropolitans and secular authorities, they created documents purportedly authored by early popes and council documents

For 150 to 200 years, the forgeries were only moderately successful. Although a relatively-large number of ninth- or tenth-century manuscripts is known (about 100 more-or-less complete manuscripts of the False Decretals, dating from the ninth to the 16th century, have been preserved), the canonical collections took little notice of the False Decretals until the early 11th century.

During that century, the situation changed rapidly under the impetus of the Gregorian reforms and the Investiture Controversy. Spurred by monastic reform movements and the efforts of some Holy Roman Emperors, a group of cardinals and a series of popes strove to cleanse the church of abuses and free the papacy from its imperial patronage (which had recently freed it from the influence of Roman nobles). The reformers' efforts soon conflicted with temporal power; the bishops of the Holy Roman Empire were crucial to the emperors' power, forming the backbone of their administrative structure. This mingling of spiritual and temporal power was wrong, according to the reformers; Saint Peter had condemned Simon Magus (the "Simon" of simony), who tried to buy spiritual power.

During the Middle Ages, few doubted the authenticity of the alleged papal letters. This changed during the fifteenth century, when humanist Latin scholars such as Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa noticed bizarre anachronisms (such as the claim that Clement I had based the preeminence of local churches on the presence of pagan high priests). During the sixteenth century, Protestant ecclesiastical historians such as the Centuriators of Magdeburg (the authors of the Magdeburg Centuries) systematically criticized the forgeries without yet recognizing them as an interconnected complex. The final proof was provided by Calvinist preacher David Blondel, who discovered that the popes from the early centuries quoted extensively from much-later authors and published his findings (Pseudoisidorus et Turrianus vapulantes) in 1628. Although Catholic theologians originally tried to defend the authenticity of at least some of the material, since the nineteenth century no serious theologian (or historian) has denied the forgeries.

During the Middle Ages, few doubted the authenticity of the alleged papal letters. This changed during the fifteenth century, when humanist Latin scholars such as Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa noticed bizarre anachronisms (such as the claim that Clement I had based the preeminence of local churches on the presence of pagan high priests). During the sixteenth century, Protestant ecclesiastical historians such as the Centuriators of Magdeburg (the authors of the Magdeburg Centuries) systematically criticized the forgeries without yet recognizing them as an interconnected complex.

The final proof was provided by Calvinist preacher David Blondel, who discovered that the popes from the early centuries quoted extensively from much-later authors and published his findings (Pseudoisidorus et Turrianus vapulantes) in 1628. Although Catholic theologians originally tried to defend the authenticity of at least some of the material, since the nineteenth century no serious theologian (or historian) has denied the forgeries. —

• RC historian Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger: In the middle of the ninth century—about 845—there arose the huge fabrication of the Isidorian decretals...About a hundred pretended decrees of the earliest Popes, together with certain spurious writings of other Church dignitaries and acts of Synods, were then fabricated in the west of Gaul, and eagerly seized upon Pope Nicholas I at Rome, to be used as genuine documents in support of the new claims put forward by himself and his successors.

That the pseudo–Isidorian principles eventually revolutionized the whole constitution of the Church, and introduced a new system in place of the old—on that point there can be no controversy among candid historians.

The most potent instrument of the new Papal system was Gratian’s Decretum, which issued about the middle of the twelfth century from the first school of Law in Europe, the juristic teacher of the whole of Western Christendom, Bologna. In this work the Isidorian forgeries were combined with those of the other Gregorian (Gregory VII) writers...and with Gratia’s own additions. His work displaced all the older collections of canon law, and became the manual and repertory, not for canonists only, but for the scholastic theologians, who, for the most part, derived all their knowledge of Fathers and Councils from it. No book has ever come near it in its influence in the Church, although there is scarcely another so chokeful of gross errors, both intentional and unintentional. — Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, The Pope and the Council (Boston: Roberts, 1870), pp. 76-77, 79, 115-116, as cited by below:

Webster: In his defense of the papacy Thomas [Aquinas in "Against the Errors of the Greeks," 1264] bases practically his entire argument on forged quotations of Church fathers. Under the names of the eminent Greek fathers such as Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria and Maximus the Abbott, a Latin forger had compiled a catena of quotations interspersing a number that were genuine with many that were forged which was subsequently submitted to Pope Urban IV. This work became known as the Thesaurus of Greek Fathers or Thesaurus Graecorum Patrum. In addition the Latin author also included spurious canons from early Ecumenical Councils. Pope Urban in turn submitted the work to Thomas Aquinas who used many of the forged passages in his work Against the Errors of the Greeks mistakenly thinking they were genuine. These spurious quotations had enormous influence on many Western theologians in succeeding centuries....

Von Döllinger elaborates on the far reaching influence of these forgeries, especially in their association with the authority of Aquinas, on succeeding generations of theologians and their extensive use as a defense of the papacy:

In theology, from the beginning of the fourteenth century, the spurious passages of St. Cyril and forged canons of Councils maintained their ground, being guaranteed against all suspicion by the authority of St. Thomas. Since the work of Trionfo in 1320, up to 1450, it is remarkable that no single new work appeared in the interests of the Papal system. But then the contest between the Council of Basle and Pope Eugenius IV evoked the work of Cardinal Torquemada, besides some others of less importance. Torquemada’s argument, which was held up to the time of Bellarmine to be the most conslusive apology of the Papal system, rests entirely on fabrications later than the pseudo-Isidore, and chiefly on the spurious passages of St. Cyril. To ignore the authority of St. Thomas is, according to the Cardinal, bad enough, but to slight the testimony of St. Cyril is intolerable. The Pope is infallible; all authority of other bishops is borrowed or derived frorn his. Decisions of Councils without his assent are null and void. These fundamental principles of Torquemada are proved by spurious passages of Anacletus, Clement, the Council of Chalcedon, St. Cyril, and a mass of forged or adulterated testimonies. In the times of Leo X and Clement III, the Cardinals Thomas of Vio, or Cajetan, and Jacobazzi, followed closely in his footsteps. Melchior Canus built firmly on the authority of Cyril, attested by St. Thomas, and so did Bellarmine and the Jesuits who followed him.

Those who wish to get a bird’s–eye view of the extent to which the genuine tradition of Church authority was still overlaid and obliterated by the rubbish of later inventions and forgeries about 1563, when the Loci of Canus appeared, must read the fifth book of his work. It is indeed still worse fifty years later in this part of Bellarmine’s work. The difference is that Canus was honest in his belief, which cannot be said of Bellarmine.

The Dominicans, Nicolai, Le Quien, Quetif, and Echard, were the first to avow openly that their master St. Thomas, had been deceived by an imposter, and had in turn misled the whole tribe of theologians and canonists who followed him. On the one hand, the Jesuits, including even such a scholar as Labbe, while giving up the pseudo–Isidorian decretals, manifested their resolve to still cling to St. Cyril. In Italy, as late as 1713, Professor Andruzzi of Bologna cited the most important of the interpolations of St. Cyril as a conclusive argument in his controversial treatise against the patriarch Dositheus (Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, The Pope and the Council (Boston: Roberts, 1870), pp. 233-234).

To be brief, modern impartial scholarship is reasonably certain that the conventional conclusion which views the Gregorians as defenders of a consistently uniform tradition is largely fiction. ‘The emergence of a papal monarchy from the eleventh century onwards cannot be represented as the realization of a homogenous development, even within the relatively closed circle of the western, Latin, Church’ (R.A. Marcus, From Augustine to Gregory the Great (London: Variorum Reprints, 1983), p. 355). - William Webster, "Forgeries and the Papacy;"

Wikipedia: The Donation of Constantine

The Donation of Constantine (Latin: Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Pope. Composed probably in the 8th century, it was used, especially in the 13th century, in support of claims of political authority by the papacy...The Donation of Constantine was included in the ninth century Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals collection.

During the Middle Ages, the Donation was widely accepted as authentic, although the Emperor Otto III did possibly raise suspicions of the document "in letters of gold" as a forgery, in making a gift to the See of Rome.[9] It was not until the mid-15th century, with the revival of Classical scholarship and textual criticism, that humanists, and eventually the papal bureaucracy, began to realize that the document could not possibly be genuine. Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa declared it to be a forgery[10][11] and spoke of it as an apocryphal work. Later, the Catholic priest Lorenzo Valla, in De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione declamatio, proved the forgery with certainty.

Valla's treatise was taken up vehemently by writers of the Protestant Reformation, such as Ulrich von Hutten and Martin Luther, causing the treatise to be placed on the list of banned books in the mid-16th century. The Donation continued to be tacitly accepted as authentic until Caesar Baronius in his "Annales Ecclesiastici" (published 1588–1607) admitted that it was a forgery, after which it was almost universally accepted as such.[3] Some continued to argue for its authenticity; nearly a century after "Annales Ecclesiastici", Christian Wolff still alluded to the Donation as undisputed fact. -

Thus the idea of the church looking for a supreme exalted infallible pope in Rome, as well as successors of this Peter is contrary to historical evidence, as is the the hierarchical distinctions between presbuteros (senior/elder) and episkopos (overseer) and the distinctive sacerdotal Catholic priesthood. For the reality is that church of Rome is fundamentally an invisible church in Scripture and contrary to it, although it retained (and retains) enough gospel Truth for some contrite souls of simple pious faith to see the risen Lord Jesus and cast all their faith in Him to save them on His account, by His sinless shed blood, not in any way due to their merit nor of their self-proclaimed elitist institution. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18) Glory and thanks be to God!


Development of the distinctive Catholic priesthood

Along with the development of the unScriptural papacy was the formal hierarchical distinctions which developed in Catholicism between presbuteros (senior/elder) or episkopos (superintendent/overseer) which in Scripture was one office (the former describing the manner of person who function as the latter). In addition is that of distinctively giving NT pastors the title of “hiereus,” which is never used for NT pastors, (apart from them being part of the general priesthood of all believers).

• Contrary to Catholic teaching (“Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons” — CCC 1593), the fourth century Roman Catholic scholar Jerome (347-420), confirms,

The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptised, instead of leaving them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others, and have chief supervision over the general well-being of the community. And this is not my private opinion, it is that of Scripture. If you doubt that bishop and presbyter are the same, that the first word is one of function, and the second one of age, read the epistle of the Apostle to the Philippians. Without doubt it is the duty of the presbyters to bear in mind that by the discipline of the Church they are subordinated to him who has been given them as their head, but it is fitting that the bishops, on their side, do not forget that if they are set over the presbyters, it is the result of tradition, and not by the fact of a particular institution of the Lord. (Commentary on Tit. 1.7, quoted. in “Religions of authority and the religion of the spirit," pp. 77,78. 1904, by AUGUSTE SABATIER. A similar translated version of this is provided by "Catholic World," Volume 32, by the Paulist Fathers, 1881, pp. 73,74).

While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope;.... When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; (John Henry Newman, Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Notre Dame edition, pp. 165-67).

Each church at first had at its head not a single chief pastor, but a plurality of elders (=bishops) acting as a college. In course of time there emerged from this presbyterial body...a permanent leader, to whom henceforth the term "bishop" tended to be restricted. This is the "monarchical episcopate" which first meets us in the letters of Ignatius, early in the second century...

....the bishops in the first instance of provincial capitals, gradually acquired control over their episcopal brethren in lesser cities, analogous to that of the civil governor over other provincial cities. Indeed, the development of the whole hierarchy above the congregational bishop was largely influenced by the imperial system, especially after church and state came into alliance under Constantine. (Hugh Chrisholm, The Encyclopaedia Britannica, University Press, 1911, p. 929)

• In contrast to Scripture, the Council of Chalcedon, which is recognized as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by Catholics, states,

29. He is sacrilegious who degrades a bishop to the rank of a presbyter. For he that is guilty of crime is unworthy of the priesthood.

• More distinctions followed. Catholic author Greg Dues in "Catholic Customs & Traditions: A Popular Guide," (emphasis mine) adds,:

Priests continued to live in the same style as did the people they served. They farmed and worked at trades. They did not wear distinctive clothing. Only bishops, because of their extensive responsibilities, did not do ordinary work; and they wore a distinctive insignia. Beginning in the late 5th century, priests began wearing a long tunic to distinguish them from the laity, who wore a short one. This evolved into the modern alb (white) and the everyday dark cassock. [Which can easily be worn in order to gain the esteem and praise of men (unlike in evangelism), which the Lord condemned: "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.," (Matthew 23:5)]

As Christianity swept through the Germanic lands, the church adopted the feudalistic structures of culture and politics that had evolved in Europe. Precise ranking, with exact privileges and responsibilities, was determined for kings, lords, knights, and, on the bottom, the peasants. A parallel ranking made clear distinction among bishops, abbots, priests, monks, and the laity on the bottom.

Clearly determined levels of authority gave rise to elaborate investiture with distinct insignia when clerics were ordained. Deacons were presented with alb and stole; priests' palms were anointed and they were then presented with chasuble and stole, along with paten, chalice, bread, and wine; bishops received the stole, ring, crozier, and eventually the miter; deacons received the Book of the Gospels; acolytes received a candle; lectors, the Book of Epistles; porters, a key. (Greg Dues, "Catholic Customs & Traditions: A Popular Guide," [1992]

However, even the distinctive Catholic priesthood is unScriptural, being unknown in the inspired record of what the NT church believed and contrary to it.

Consistent with her erroneous understanding of the Lord's Supper (“Eucharist), Catholicism came to consider NT pastors to be a distinctive sacerdotal class of clergy, and thus uses the same distinctive word for NT pastors as for the OT sacerdotal class of clergy (priests), which the Holy Spirit never does.

For the words “hiereus” and “archiereus" (translated "priest" and "high priest" as in Heb. 4:15; 10:11) are the Greek words which the Holy Spirit distinctively uses for a separate sacerdotal (sacrificing) class of persons in the New Testament (over 280 times total*) and for pagan sacerdotal ministers and the general priesthood of all NT believers, which correspond to the Old Testament word for a separate class of sacerdotal ministers (Hebrew “kohen”). But which the Holy Spirit never uses for New Testament pastors ("poime¯n"), but instead He calls them presbuteros (senior/elder, referring to position or age) and episkopos (superintendent/overseer, referring to function) which denote those in the same office. (Titus 1:5-7: Acts 20:17,28; Phil. 1:1)

The English word "priest" is a etymological corruption of the Greek presbuteros, being referred to in Old English (around 700 to 1000 AD) as "preostas" or "preost," and finally resulting in the modern English "priest."

Orthodox historian scholar John Anthony McGuckin admits that "the word "priesthood" is itself a corruption of the Greek "presbyter." (John Anthony McGuckin, "The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture)

Russell Jonas Grigaitis (O.F.S.) (while yet trying to defend the use of "priest"), informs,

"The Greek word for this office is...[hiereus], which can be literally translated into Latin as sacerdos [as for ko^he^n]. First century Christians [actually the Holy Spirit who inspired writers] felt that their special type of hiereus (sacerdos) was so removed from the original that they gave it a new name, presbuteros (presbyter). Unfortunately, sacerdos didn't evolve into an English word, but the word priest [from old English "preost"] took on its definition." (

The problem is that translating both "hiereus" and "presbuteros" as "priest" (which the RC Douay Rheims Bible inconsistently calls them: Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5) means that the distinction the Holy Spirit provided by never using the distinctive term “hiereus” for NT presbuteros (and never manifesting them as having the Catholic unique sacerdotal function) is lost.

All believers are called to sacrifice (Rm. 12:1; 15:16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; Heb. 13:15,16; cf. 9:9) and all constitute the only priesthood (hieráteuma) in the NT church, that of all believers, (1Pt. 2:5,9; Re 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). But nowhere are NT pastors distinctively titled hiereus, and the idea of the NT presbuteros being a distinctive class titled "hiereus" was a later development, which Catholicism attempts to justify via an imposed functional equivalence, supposing NT presbuteros engaged in a unique sacrificial ministry as their primary function.

Catholic writer Greg Dues in "Catholic Customs & Traditions, a popular guide," states, "Priesthood as we know it in the Catholic church was unheard of during the first generation of Christianity, because at that time priesthood was still associated with animal sacrifices in both the Jewish and pagan religions."

"When the Eucharist came to be regarded as a sacrifice [after Rome's theology], the role of the bishop took on a priestly dimension. By the third century bishops were considered priests. Presbyters or elders sometimes substituted for the bishop at the Eucharist. By the end of the third century people all over were using the title 'priest' (hierus in Greek and sacerdos in Latin) for whoever presided at the Eucharist." (Catholic Customs & Traditions)

Yet neither presbuteros or episkopos are described as having any unique sacrificial function. Rather than dispensing bread as part of their ordained function, and offering the Lord's supper as a sacrifice for sin, neither of which NT pastors are ever described as doing in the life of the church (Acts onward, which writings show us how the NT church understood the gospels), instead the primary work of NT pastors (besides prayer) is preaching. (Act 6:3,4; 2 Tim.4:2) by which they “feed the flock” (Acts 20:28; 1Pt. 5:2) ) for the word is called spiritual "milk," (1Co. 3:22; 1Pt. 1:22) and "meat," (Heb. 5:12-14) what is said to "nourish" the souls of believers, and believing it is how the lost obtain life in themselves. (1 Timothy 4:6; ;Acts 15:7-9; cf. Psalms 19:7) In contrast op the Catholic corruption of the Lord's supper, nowhere in the record of the NT church is the Lord's supper described as spiritual food, and the means of obtaining spiritual life in oneself.

Thus the Catholic practice of using the same term for Old Testaments priests and for NT pastors — thereby making the latter into being a separate sacerdotal class of believers, distinctive from the only priesthood in the NT church (all believers) — is not Scriptural or justifiable. Instead of using the same term for Old Testaments priests and for NT pastors, the latter should be called elders or overseers or equivalents which correlate to the original meaning and keeps the distinction the Holy Spirit made evident.

In response to a query on this issue, the web site of International Standard Version (not my preferred translation) states,

No Greek lexicons or other scholarly sources suggest that "presbyteros" means "priest" [in the OT sense] instead of "elder". The Greek word is equivalent to the Hebrew ZAQEN, which means "elder", and not priest. You can see the ZAQENIM described in Exodus 18:21-22 using some of the same equivalent Hebrew terms as Paul uses in the GK of 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Note that the ZAQENIM are NOT priests (i.e., from the tribe of Levi) but are rather men of distinctive maturity that qualifies them for ministerial roles among the people.

Therefore the NT equivalent of the ZAQENIM cannot be the Levitical priests. The Greek "presbyteros" (literally, the comparative of the Greek word for "old" and therefore translated as "one who is older") thus describes the character qualities of the "episkopos". The term "elder" would therefore appear to describe the character, while the term "overseer" (for that is the literal rendering of "episkopos") connotes the job description.

To sum up, far from obfuscating the meaning of "presbyteros", our rendering of "elder" most closely associates the original Greek term with its OT counterpart, the ZAQENIM. ...we would also question the fundamental assumption that you bring up in your last observation, i.e., that "the church has always had priests among its ordained clergy". We can find no documentation of that claim. (

Neither the Hebrew word, "kohen," nor the Greek word "hiereus," or the Latin word "sacerdos" (plural, "sacerdotes") for priest have any morphological or lingual relationship with the Latin word for “presbyter” (for which technicalities I rely on the knowledge of others, by God's grace). And hiereus (as archiereus=chief priests) is used in distinction to elders in such places as Lk. 22:66; Acts 22:5.

Jewish elders (Hebrew "zaqen") as a body existed before the priesthood of Levitical priests (Hebrew "kohen"), most likely as heads of household or clans, and being an elder did not necessarily make one a Levitical priest (Ex. 3:16,18, 18:12; 19:7; 24:1; Num. 11:6; Dt. 21:2; 22:5-7; 31:9,28; 32:7; Josh. 23:2; 2Chron. 5:4; Lam. 1:9; cf. Mt. 21:13; 26:47) or a high priest, offering both gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Heb. 5:1) While elders could exercise some priestly functions such as praying and laying hands on sacrifices, yet unlike presbuteros and episkopos (Greek), elders and priest did not mean the same thing in language or in distinctive function. Like very young Samuel, one could be a kohen/priest without being an zaqen/elder, and one could be a elder without formally being a priest, whose primary function was to offer expiatory sacrifices for the people.

Note also that etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and evolving changes in form and meaning. over time, but etymologies are not definitions (examples: "cute" used to mean bow-legged; "bully" originally meant darling or sweetheart; "Nice" originally meant stupid or foolish; "counterfeit" used to mean a legitimate copy; "egregious" originally connoted eminent or admirable). It is an etymological fallacy to hold that the present-day meaning of a word or phrase means it is the same as its original or historical meaning. Since presbyteros incorrectly evolved into priest (and were assigned an imposed unique sacerdotal function) therefore it is erroneously considered to be valid to distinctively use the same distinctive term used for OT priests for NT pastors, despite the Holy Spirit never doing so and the lack of the unique sacerdotal function Catholicism attributes to NT presbyteros.

Finally, a literary source laments,

Heaven and hell alone will tell all the mischief which has been done to men's souls by the double meaning of our word 'priest.' In the Old English Bible ' presbyter ' was rendered by 'preost,' and 'sacerdos' or 'hiereus' by 'sacerd.' Now, neither has 'preost' the 'uteros' of 'presbuteros,' nor has the latter the '0' of 'preost.' 'Preost' seems to have been a form of 'prafost,' and to have been, as such, accommodated to the expression of 'presbuteros'; for this reason, that 'prafost' or 'prafast' signified exactly what a 'presbyter' was in the ancient Church, namely, a president or rector.

If 'priest' represents 'preost,' it does so badly in form; for it [priest] has an 'i,' which 'preost' has not, and it has not an '0,' which 'preost' has; and it represents it utterly falsely in meaning, for it means both elder and sacrificer, both 'presbuteros' and 'hiereus ' or 'sacerdos,' whilst 'preost,' [for presbuteros] as I have said before, did not do this.

Accordingly, neither in form nor in meaning does 'priest' represent either 'preost' or 'presbuteros'... (Aarbert: A Drama Without Stage Or Scenery, Wrought Out Through Song in Many ... by William Marshall, p. 38. Transcribed using OCR software. In his time he apparently wanted to stop using "priest" for the equivalent of the Jewish ko^he^n and Greek “hiereus,” and use it for presbuteros instead, as it essentially once was, but seeing as "priest" is well established denoting the Jewish ko^he^n and Greek “hiereus,”, and since "elder" or "overseer" correlates to the original meaning and keeps the distinction the Holy Spirit made evident, then the latter should be used, or equivalents.)

Clerical celibacy:

An additional deformation that developed was that of requiring pastors, who were normally married in the NT church, (1 Tim. 3:17; Titus 1:6) as were all but two of the apostles, (1Co. 9:5) to be celibate (with rare exceptions), even if (in early law) they were married. (“All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate.” This refers to Roman Catholicism while “in Eastern Churches bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests.” — CCC 1579, 1580) And as the apostle Paul states that celibacy is a gift that not all have, (1 Co. 7:7) therefore this requirement dangerously presumes all have that gift.

Concerning this Dues also writes,

...The Hebrew Scriptures (see Leviticus 22:3 - 6) mandated that their Jewish priests refrain from intercourse before serving at the altar.... [While Old Testament priests abstained from their wives while actually serving at the altar, they served in rotating shifts and could have sexual relations when not serving, as seen by Luke 1:5-13 (here is one explanation on the details of priestly service). Moreover, the text quoted (Leviticus 22:3-6) forbids any priest ministering in the holy things "having his uncleanness upon him," but being married did not render one to be in a state of continual uncleanness; only that one was unclean regarding such until the evening, after marital relations or any discharge of semen, and then washing. (Lv. 15:16-18) But contrary to Catholicism, the New Testament states that "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4) And the NT church nowhere enjoins pastoral celibacy, for as said, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 evidences that being married with children was normative for elders/presbuterosas, and presbyteros are never even distinctively called priests (as "hiereus," the word distinctively used for sacerdotal persons) nor shown uniquely exercising any sacerdotal function, which all believers are to do, (Rm. 12:1; 15:16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; Heb. 13:15,16; cf. 9:9) and all constitute the only priesthood (hieráteuma) in the NT church.]

Because Christians considered the priesthood of the New Testament to be greater than that of the Jews, the call to purity was considered greater, too. And since priests served at the altar all their life, shouldn't their abstinence be permanent? Early heretics, such as Manichaeans and Montanists, added a negative influence by proclaiming that sexual expression - including that of the laity - was impure. Catholic leaders, such as St. Augustine, taught that Original Sin was transmitted through intercourse. Therefore, abstinence and virginity was the ideal life and only the weak should marry. However, most bishops and presbyters continued to marry. In fact, the only marriages that had to have any kind of blessing were those of deacons and priests. (p. 168)

The tradition of celibacy continued to evolve. In some places it was expected that priests be not sexually active after ordination. When monastic spirituality became popular in the fourth and fifth centuries, it promoted the ideal of celibacy as a model for all priests.

One way church authority enforced celibacy was by ordaining monks, who took the vow of chastity, to evangelize large areas of Europe. Church authority continued to mandate celibacy. The First Lateran Council (1123-1153) forbade those in orders to marry and ordered all those already married to renounce their wives and do penance. Later legislation declared the marriages of clerics not only illegal but also invalid. Widespread disregard of these laws continued until a reorganization of preparation for priesthood following the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent in the 1500's. (Greg Dues, "Catholic Customs & Traditions: A Popular Guide," [1992]; p. 169 )

The Regional Council of Carthage stated in the interpretation section,

The continence which the present Canon requires bishops, priests, and deacons to maintain is that they shall make a promise when they are being ordained that they will never have any carnal intercourse with their wives, by agreement with the latter, but, on the contrary, will remain continent. (

This is in contrast with Scripture, in which while not seeking to change one's status is exhorted, and celibacy is advocated for those "unmarried and widows" who have the gift (especially due to "the present distress" for "the time is short,": 1Co. 7:7,8,17-35) so as focus spiritually on the Lord, without being distracted by the cares of this life, yet marriage is distinctly said to not be sin, (v. 28) and marriage is enjoined with normal marital relations as the solution to fornication, (v. 5) and leaving a spouse forbidden. (v. 39) Moreover, pastors and apostles were normatively married with children, which itself would testify to their shepherding skills. (1Tim. 3:1-7)

But requiring the contrary, that pastors be single (except in the case of certain married pastoral converts) is consistent with the extreme bias of such men as Jerome, who saw marriage as so inferior (at the least) to virginity, celibacy and continence, that he engaged in specious reasoning and abused Scripture to support his extreme imbalanced views, teaching:

Marriage replenishes the earth, virginity fills Paradise. This too we must observe, at least if we would faithfully follow the Hebrew, that while Scripture on the first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days relates that, having finished the works of each, "God saw that it was good," on the second day it omitted this altogether, leaving us to understand that two is not a good number because it destroys unity, and prefigures the marriage compact. Hence it was that all the animals which Noah took into the ark by pairs were unclean. Odd numbers denote cleanness.

Which is simply wresting of Scripture, (cf. 2Pet. 3:16) for "if we would faithfully follow the Hebrew," God declared everything that He had made in 6 days (an "unclean" even number) to be Very Good: "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31) And the Lord sent His disciples out 2 by 2.

Yet Jerome, who is given uncritical papal esteem as a great scholar, is not finished with his eisegetical reasoning, also teaching:

"It is not disparaging wedlock to prefer virginity. No one can make a comparison between two things if one is good and the other evil ." (''Letter'' 22). On First Corinthians 7 he reasons, "It is good, he says, for a man not to touch a woman. If it is good not to touch a woman, it is bad to touch one: for there is no opposite to goodness but badness. But if it be bad and the evil is pardoned, the reason for the concession is to prevent worse evil." (Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book I;

The above reasoning is called a false dilemma, a logical fallacy in which two alternatives are presented as the only possible valid choice or conclusion, ignoring a third or more other ones. Here, it does not follow that since it is good for a man not to touch (which can mean attach) a women that is bad to do so, for there can be a number of good choices in life. In context, the "good" here is a matter of preference, that it is good to be celibate, but they that marry do not sin. (1Co. 7:28)

And while the basic reason Paul provides here for marriage is to prevent fornication — but they are also to engage in marital relations because the two are one and the bodies of each belong to each other (1Co. 7:3-5) — that is obviously a major issue of universal import, and Paul calls celibacy a gift that not all have. (v. 7) To marginalize the advocation of marriage due to this being the basic reason is close to marginalizing the requirement that women wear clothes (in a warm climate) because the basic reason to prevent lusting by men, which only a few can resist doing.

Moreover, contextually Paul says that "it is good" to remain celibate in the light of "the present distress," and thus if they marry "such shall have trouble in the flesh" which Paul seeks to spare them from.

And which distress is understood as meaning that the "time is short," perhaps speaking prophetically of the calamitous 70 AD destruction of the temple and dispersion. And thus even married believers are the more exhorted to live so focused on the Lord that they be as though they were single.

Which does not mean married believers are to live in continence, any more than those who weep or rejoice are to utterly forsake either — both of which Paul elsewhere exhorts (Rm. 12:15) — or that they who buy things are to take vows of poverty, but that all stay intently focused on the Lord and doing His work.

Furthermore, Paul elsewhere states that forbidding marriage is a doctrine of devils, (1Tim. 4:3) and the writer of Hebrews affirms that "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)

But rejecting the balanced teaching of Scripture — and the Lord hates a false balance — Jerome even enjoins permanent continency upon pastors and their wives, completely contrary to what Scripture teaches, but even charges them with adultery if they do, as evidenced by begetting children!:

For he does not say: Let a bishop be chosen who marries one wife and begets children; but who marries one wife, and has his children in subjection and well disciplined. You surely admit that he is no bishop who during his episcopate begets children. The reverse is the case-if he be discovered, he will not be bound by the ordinary obligations of a husband, but will be condemned as an adulterer. Either permit priests to perform the work of marriage with the result that virginity and marriage are on a par: or if it is unlawful for priests to touch their wives, they are so far holy in that they imitate virgin chastity. (Jerome, ibid)

Thus once again he engages in perverse reasoning to support his perverse abhorrence of marital relations. Nowhere is it even inferred that once a married man is ordained as a pastor then he and his wife must live in continence, and that those who do not are adulterers!

However, as with distinctively called "priests," this reasoning is defended based upon the fallacious premise that NT pastors are a distinct class of sacerdotal priests, with a unique function being that of transubstantiating bread and wine into the "real" body and blood of Christ and a sacrifice for sins, which they are nowhere shown or described as doing.

"This do in remembrance of Me." (1Co. 11:24) as with "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15) is not exclusive to clergy, (Acts 8:4) while the Lord's supper is nowhere described as a sacrifice for sins nor are pasts even mentioned officiating at it. But Catholics construe John 6:25-66, which does not mention the Lord's supper, to be referring to it, which it does not, and speaks metaphorically of effectually receiving the Lord's words, and thus Himself, into oneself like as one consumes food. Which is how the Lord "lived by" the Father, which He taught was analogous to eating His flesh, (Jn. 6:57; cf. Mt. 4:4; Jn. 4:34) and is the only understanding that easily conflates with the totality of Scripture, as shown here by the grace of God.

However, in another example of logical fallacy and his fallacious premise, Jerome also reasons:

A layman, or any believer, cannot pray unless he abstain from sexual intercourse. Now a priest must always offer sacrifices for the people: he must therefore always pray. And if he must always pray, he must always be released from the duties of marriage. For even under the old law they who used to offer sacrifices for the people not only remained in their houses, but purified themselves for the occasion by separating from their wives, nor would they drink wine or strong drink which are wont to stimulate lust. (Jerome, ibid)

Herein we have multiple errors. Jerome erroneously holds that NT pastors must always offer sacrifices for the people, likely referring to the Catholic Eucharist, but which as shown before, is simply not the case.

Secondly, even if NT pastors were priests, Jerome reasons that having to pray always means one cannot engage in marital relations, but prayer is not an activity the priest has no respite from, else her could not attend to or engage in other activities, which is absurd. Moreover, all believers are exhorted to "pray without ceasing" (1Thes. 5:17) while also being told to engage in marital relations, as in marriage the two are one and the bodies of each belong to each other. (1Co. 7:3-5) Thus the need to pray always does not mean once cannot engage in other activities, though all are to be done prayerfully, in conscious dependence upon, reverence of, and gratitude to the Lord.

Thirdly, while OT priests apparently keep themselves from their wives while ministering, this was only temporary, and the uncleanness of marital relations was part of the typological ceremonial law which is abrogated under the New Covenant. Therefore the marriage bed is called undefiled, and pastors were normally married, with children.

Fourthly, Jerome seems to liken drinking alcohol with marriage as both being forbidden due to lust, but that martial relations must involved lust is another erroneous belief found among some fathers, as will seen next.

For men as Augustine held that martial relations must involve carnal sinful lust, and even interprets Heb. 13:4 which states that the marriage bed is undefiled (unlike under the Law) to simply mean if it is free from adultery!

...the very embrace which is lawful and honourable cannot be effected without the ardour of lust, so as to be able to accomplish that which appertains to the use of reason and not of lust....This is the carnal concupiscence, which, while it is no longer accounted sin in the regenerate, yet in no case happens to nature except from sin. — On Marriage and Concupiscence (Book I, cp. 27);

Similarly, Tertullian argued that second marriage, having been freed from the first by death, "will have to be termed no other than a species of fornication," partly based on the reasoning that such involves desiring to marry a women out of sexual ardor. An Exhortation to Chastity,'' Chapter IX.—Second Marriage a Species of Adultery, Marriage Itself Impugned, as Akin to Adultery, ANF, v. 4, p. 84.]

However, the Holy Spirit exhorts us not to heed fables and false asceticism:, "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled." (Titus 1:14-15)

More on history as relates to clerical celibacy:

THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF NICEA, A.D. 325: Whatever presbyter or deacon shall put away his wife without the offence of fornication, or for any other cause of which we have spoken above, and shall east her out of doors . . . such a person shall be east out of the clergy, if he were a clergyman; if a layman he shall be forbidden the communion of the faithful.. . . But if that woman[untruly charged by her husband with adultery], that is to say his wife, spurns his society on account of the injury he has done her and the charge he has brought against her, of which she is innocent, let her freely be put away and let a bill of repudiation be written for her, noting the false accusation which had been brought against her. And then if she should wish to marry some other faithful man, it is right for he; to do so, nor does the Church forbid it; and the same permission extends as well to men as to women, since there is equal reason for it for each. SOURCE: Henry R. Percival, ed., The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church CANON LXVI. Vol XIV of Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, edd. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, (repr. Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988):

Even in the tenth century most rural priests had wives, and many urban clergy were also married, which presented a problem, a primary one being economic. A consequence which relates to divorce, the provincial council at Bourges in 1031 decreed that priests should separate from their wives, instead of attempting to cohabit chastely...The councils of Rome in 1049, 1050, and 1059 once again forbade clerics in major orders from having sexual relations with their wives and decreed that clerics dismiss any women they kept in their houses (including their wives) [which legislation had force under the code of laws known as "Las Siete Partidas,"drawn up by Alfonso the Wise]...

Similar legislation emerged from synods and councils for the next fifty year s, and in 1123, the council known as Lateran I prohibited clerical marriage and concubinage, decl aring that ordination to a major order (subdiaconate, diaconate, and priesthood) created an impediment to marriage. Clerics in major orders could no longer marry; existing clerical marriages were stripped of their legal status. Lateran II, in 1139, repeated these injunctions and made provisions for enforcement: clerical marriages would be considered invalid, both priests and their wives were to perform penance, and married clergy who resisted were to be deprived of both their clerical offices and their benefices.

The Second Lateran Council also forbade parishioners from attending a mass celebrated by an unchaste priest. 9 Together, the first and second Lateran councils finally and irrevocably decreed marriage a canonical crime for clerics in major orders; women who had married priests were denounced as concubines; children of priests were declared illegitimate. Lateran III (1179) reiterated the pronouncement that clerics who lived with women would be deprived of their benefices, and by the end of the twelfth century, marriage was an impediment to clerical orders. The change was not an easy one; while Peter Damian and other clerics supported the reforms, many resisted – sometimes violently. The struggle to enforce clerical celibacy had begun. 10...

[describing the findings of Catholic Henry C. Lea, "History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church"] clerical marriage was widespread throughout Europe at beginning of the eleventh century, clerical dynasties were ubiquitous, and “the standard of morality was extremely low... the clergy scarcely distinguishable from the laity in purity of life or devotion to their sacred calling.” 12 (Janelle Werner, “JUST AS THE PRIESTS HAVE THEIR WIVES”: PRIESTS AND CONCUBINES IN ENGLAND, 1375-1549, pp. 36-39:

And as divorce is linked to the development of clerical celibacy, I think this information warrants including:

While many thousands of church women were driven out to the roads, a conclave of Italian bishops in 1076 tried to excommunicate Pope Gregory for the crime of destroying families.[xxxiii] Sigebert of Gembloux wrote, “Many have seen in the ban on attending mass of a married priest an open contradiction to the teaching of the fathers. This has led to such a great scandal that the church has never been split by a greater schism.”[xxxiv] Again Gregory fired the protesting clerics. In real concern, the Eastern Church Patriarch Petros of Antioch suggested that the Pope must have lost record of the old Council of Nicea ruling on clerical marriage from 325, possibly due to general destruction of records when the Goths or Vandals sacked Rome.[xxxv] That ruling from Nicea read in part, “Whatever presbyter or deacon shall put away his wife without the offense of fornication … and shall cast her out of doors … such a person shall be cast out of the clergy …”[xxxvi]

Many priests grew violent to defend their families. In the Paris Synod of 1074, Abbot Galter of Saint Martin demanded the flock follow its shepherd in celibacy. A mob of outraged priests beat him, spit on him, and threw him in the street. In the same year Archbishop John of Rouen threatened to excommunicate protesting priests, and had to flee for his life under a hail of stones. In furious debate, the celibate party denounced its opponents as fornicators trying to prostitute the church. Married priests hurled back accusations that their foes were sodomites, whose obvious preference for homosexuality made them hate married families.[xxxvii] For decades church synods regularly broke into fistfights, with monks and priests smashing each other’s faces. In 1233, protesters murdered papal legate Conrad of Marburg, who was touring Germany partly to enforce chastity.[xxxviii] In England, furious priests locked their churches, hid their families, and tried to keep them in secret.[xxxix]

As many clerical couples still clung to each other, the hierarchy applied stronger measures. In 1089, Pope Urban II ruled that if a priest did not dispose of his wife, the local prince could enslave the woman... -

In France the efforts of reform made by the predecessors of Gregory had little effect. A Paris synod of 1074 declared Gregory's decrees unbearable and unreasonable. At a stormy synod at Poitiers, in 1078, his legate obtained the adoption of a canon which threatened with excommunication all who should listen to mass by a priest whom they knew to be guilty of simony or concubinage. But the bishops were unable to carry out the canon without the aid of the secular arm. The Norman clergy in 1072 drove the archbishop of Rouen from a council with a shower of stones. William the Conqueror came to his aid in 1080 at a synod of Lillebonne, which forbade ordained persons to keep women in their houses. But clerical marriages continued, the nuptials were made public, and male children succeeded to benefices by a recognized right of primogeniture. William the Conqueror, who assisted the hopeless reform in Normandy, prevented it in his subject province of Britanny, where the clergy, as described by Pascal II, in the early part of the twelfth century, were setting the canons at defiance and indulging in enormities hateful to God and man (Primogeniture is the right of the firstborn to the inheritance—H.V.).

At last, the Gregorian enforcement of sacerdotal celibacy triumphed in the whole Roman Church, but at the fearful sacrifice of sacerdotal chastity. The hierarchical aim was attained, but not the angelic purity of the priesthood. The private morals of the priest were sacrificed to hierarchical ambition. Concubinage and licentiousness took the place of holy matrimony. The acts of councils abound in complaints of clerical immorality and the vices of unchastity and drunkenness. "The records of the Middle Ages are full of the evidences that indiscriminate license of the worst kind prevailed throughout every rank of the hierarchy." The corruption again reached the papacy, especially in the fifteenth century. John XXIII and Alexander VI rivaled in wickedness and lewdness the worst popes of the tenth and eleventh centuries. -


Inquisitorial means: Then you had those times it seems so many RCs seem to long for. the 1180s, the Church began to panic at the spread of heresy, and thereafter it took the lead from the State, though it maintained the legal fiction that convicted and unrepentant heretics were merely 'deprived of the protection of the Church', which was (as they termed it) 'relaxed', the civil power then being free to burn them without committing mortal sin. Relaxation was accompanied by a formal plea for mercy; in fact this was meaningless, and the individual civil officer (sheriffs and so forth) had no choice but to burn, since otherwise he was denounced as a 'defender of heretics', and plunged into the perils of the system himself. (Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, p. 253)

Canons of the Ecumenical Fourth Lateran Council, 1215:

Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, that as they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, so for the defense of the faith they ought publicly to take an oath that they will strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church; so that whenever anyone shall have assumed authority, whether spiritual or temporal, let him be bound to confirm this decree by oath.

But if a temporal ruler, after having been requested and admonished by the Church, should neglect to cleanse his territory of this heretical foulness, let him be excommunicated by the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province. If he refuses to make satisfaction within a year, let the matter be made known to the supreme pontiff, that he may declare the ruler’s vassals absolved from their allegiance and may offer the territory to be ruled lay Catholics, who on the extermination of the heretics may possess it without hindrance and preserve it in the purity of faith; the right, however, of the chief ruler is to be respected as long as he offers no obstacle in this matter and permits freedom of action.(

Pope "Innocent" IV, Ad extirpanda:
(25) Those convicted of heresy by the aforesaid Diocesan Bishop, surrogate or inquisitors, shall be taken in shackles to the head of state or ruler or his special representative, instantly, or at least within five days, and the latter shall apply the regulations promulgated against such persons.
(26)The head of state or ruler must force [by torture if needed] all the heretics whom he has in custody,{8} provided he does so without killing them or breaking their arms or legs, as actual robbers and murderers of souls and thieves of the sacraments of God and Christian faith, to confess their errors and accuse other heretics whom they know, and specify their motives, and those whom they have seduced, and those who have lodged them and defended them, as thieves and robbers of material goods are made to accuse their accomplices and confess the crimes they have committed.
(30)The head of state or ruler must carefully investigate the sons and grandsons of heretics and those who have lodged them, defended them, and given them aid, and in the future admit them to no public affairs or public office.
(32)The head of state or ruler must, within ten days after the accusation, complete the following tasks: the destruction of the houses, the imposition of the fines, the consigning and dividing-up of the valuables that have been found or seized, all of which have already been described in this decree. He must obtain all fines in coin within three months, and divide them up in the manner to be set forth hereafter, and convict of crime those who cannot pay, and hold them in prison until they can [which would require obtaining help from others, thereby making them subject to the Inquisition].
(34) The head of state or ruler must divide up all the property of the heretics that is seized or discovered by the aforesaid officials, and the fines exacted from these heretics, in the form and manner following: one-third shall go to the government of the state or district. The second as a reward of the industry of the office shall go to the officials who handled this particular case. The third shall be deposited in some secure place to be kept by the aforesaid Diocesan bishop and inquisitors, and spent as they shall think fit to promote the faith and extirpate heretics, this policy prevailing in spite of any statute that has been or shall be enacted against this dividing-up of the heretics' property. —,_SS_Innocentius_IV,_Bulla_%27Ad_Extirpanda%27,_EN.pdf

More. Related: Rome against the Jews. Top^

2. History relevant to the context of the Reformation:

Cardinal Bellarmine:

 "Some years before the rise of the Lutheran and Calvinistic heresy, according to the testimony of those who were then alive, there was almost an entire abandonment of equity in ecclesiastical judgments; in morals, no discipline; in sacred literature, no erudition; in divine things, no reverence; religion was almost extinct. (Concio XXVIII. Opp. Vi. 296- , in ”A History of the Articles of Religion,” by Charles Hardwick, Cp. 1, p. 10,)

 • The Avignon Papacy (1309-76) relocated the throne to France and was followed by the Western Schism (1378-1417), with three rival popes excommunicating each other and their sees.

Referring to the schism of the 14th and 15th centuries,

•Cardinal Ratzinger observed,

"For nearly half a century, the Church was split into two or three obediences that excommunicated one another, so that every Catholic lived under excommunication by one pope or another, and, in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which of the contenders had right on his side. The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form--the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution.“

"It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for the Church of Rome, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” trans. by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989) p.196).

• The Consilium de Emendanda Ecclesia (a report commissioned by Pope Paul III on the abuses in the Catholic Church in 1536) testified,

The first abuse in this respect is the ordination of clerics and especially of priests, in which no care is taken, no diligence employed, so that indiscriminately the most unskilled, men of the vilest stock and of evil morals, adolescents, are admitted to Holy Orders and to the priesthood, to the [indelible] mark, we stress, which above all denotes Christ. From this has come numerous scandals and a contempt for the ecclesiastical order, and reverence for the divine worship has not only been diminished but has almost by now been destroyed... Another abuse of the greatest consequence is the bestowing of ecclesiastical benefices, especially parishes and above all bishoprics, in the matter of which the practice has become entrenched that provision is made for the person on whom the benefices are bestowed, but not for the flock and Church of Christ. (pg. 188; Consilium de emendanda ecclesia (1537), Part I

Joseph Lortz,    German Roman Catholic theologian:

The real significance of the Western Schism rests in the fact that for decades there was an almost universal uncertainty about where the true pope and the true Church were to be found. For several decades, both popes had excommunicated each other and his followers; thus all Christendom found itself under sentence of excommunication by at least one of the contenders. Both popes referred to their rival claimant as the Antichrist, and to the Masses celebrated by them as idolatry. It seemed impossible to do anything about this scandalous situation, despite sharp protests from all sides, and despite the radical impossibility of having two valid popes at the same time. Time and time again, the petty selfishness of the contenders blocked any solution...”

The significance of the break-up of medieval unity in the thirteenth century, but even more during the Avignon period, is evident in the most distinctive historical consequence of the Avignon Papacy: the Great Western Schism. The real meaning of this event may not be immediately apparent. It can be somewhat superficially described as a period when there were two popes, each with his own Curia, one residing in Rome, the other in Avignon.”

When Luther asserted that the pope of Rome was not the true successor of Saint Peter and that the Church could do without the Papacy, in his mind and in their essence these were new doctrines, but the distinctive element in them was not new and thus they struck a sympathetic resonance in the minds of many. Long before the Reformation itself, the unity of the Christian Church in the West had been severely undermined.” ("The Reformation: A Problem for Today” (Maryland: The Newman Press, 1964), “The Causes of the Reformation," pp. 35-37; .

Catholic Encyclopedia>Council of Constance:

The Western Schism was thus at an end, after nearly forty years of disastrous life; one pope (Gregory XII) had voluntarily abdicated; another (John XXIII) had been suspended and then deposed, but had submitted in canonical form; the third claimant (Benedict XIII) was cut off from the body of the Church, "a pope without a Church, a shepherd without a flock" (Hergenröther-Kirsch). It had come about that, whichever of the three claimants of the papacy was the legitimate successor of Peter, there reigned throughout the Church a universal uncertainty and an intolerable confusion, so that saints and scholars and upright souls were to be found in all three obediences. On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.”  (

Erasmus, in his new edition of the “Enchiridion:What man of real piety does not perceive with sighs that this is far the most corrupt of all ages? When did iniquity abound with more licentiousness? When was charity so cold?” (The Evolution of the English Bible: A Historical Sketch of the Successive,” by Henry William Hamilton-Hoare, p. 132

Catholic historian Paul Johnson additionally described the existing social situation among the clergy during this period leading up to the Refomation: 

Probably as many as half the men in orders had ‘wives’ and families. Behind all the New Learning and the theological debates, clerical celibacy was, in its own way, the biggest single issue at the Reformation. It was a great social problem and, other factors being equal, it tended to tip the balance in favour of reform. As a rule, the only hope for a child of a priest was to go into the Church himself, thus unwillingly or with no great enthusiasm, taking vows which he might subsequently regret: the evil tended to perpetuate itself.” (History of Christianity, pgs 269-270)

Maurice W. Sheehan: In this lecture I want to talk about the causes of the Reformation. This is a rather standard approach to the Reformation because it is admitted by all that the Reformation did not just happen or come like a bolt from the blue...Part of the tragedy of the Reformation is that the Church before 1517 was unable to reform itself or to set in motion events or changes that would have led to a reform in the Church that would have satisfied its members and really affected change....

It is possible to go back deep into the Middle Ages when enumerating or toting up the causes of the Reformation. I would like to start simply with the fourteenth century....

The first thing to note is that in the fourteenth century there was a period of approximately seventy years, from 1309 to 1377, when the pope was not living or residing in Rome...In the midst of the pope living outside of the Italian peninsula, outside of Rome, there occurred one of those events in European history that mark an age forever, and that was the infamous Black Death...Not too long after the Black Death there occurred something that was far worse than the popes living in Avignon... they proceeded to elect a counter-pope in 1378 to the pope who was then living in Rome. This counter-pope was French. He went back to Avignon. The man already resident now in Rome stayed in Rome, and Christendom now had the spectacle of not one pope living where he shouldn't have been, but of two popes each claiming to be the rightful pope, one living in Avignon, the other in Rome.

To...Boniface IX, goes the unenviable distinction of probably having begun the papal sale of offices...

1447 is usually taken as the year that began or marked the appearance of what we call the Renaissance Papacy, or the Renaissance Popes. The Italian Renaissance was in full swing at this time, and when we speak of the Renaissance Popes what we mean more than anything else is that these popes were more men of culture or rulers than popes...Sixtus IV was completely a worldling. He is best known perhaps for the chapel that he built which was later decorated by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel. His successor Innocent VIII had an illegitimate family. Alexander VI, who was Spanish, was perhaps the worst of them all. He had many illegitimate children, but he was a good political candidate. But his reign as pope did more to weaken the moral prestige of the papacy than almost anything imaginable...

And if we go to the clergy, to what we can call the lower clergy or the ordinary priests, we can say that one vice that many of them had was immorality. Many of them had women that they kept in their rectories by whom they had children, so they had families to support. — Maurice W. Sheehan, O.F.M. Cap., Lecture 2: Prelude-Causes, Attempts at Reform to 1537; International Catholic University,

Dickens: In the summer of 1536, Pope Paul III appointed Cardinals Contarini and Cafara and a commission to study church Reform. The report of this commission, the Consilium de emendanda ecclesiae, was completed in March 1537.  The final paragraphs deal with the corruptions of Renaissance Rome itself:

the swarm of sordid and ignorant priests in the city, the harlots who are followed around by clerics and by the noble members of the cardinals’ households …” 

The immediate effects of the Consilium fell far below the hopes of its authors and its very frankness hampered its public use. … the more noticeably pious prelates [note: this the “noticeably pious” clergy] had no longer to tolerate the open cynicism of the Medicean period, and when moral lapses by clerics came to light, pains were now taken to hush them up as matters of grievous scandal.” (G. Dickens, “The Counter Reformation,” pp. 100,102)

In the same frank spirit is the following statement of de Mézeray, the historiographer of France: [Abrege’ Chronol. VIII. 691, seqq. a Paris, 1681]

As the heads of the Church paid no regard to the maintenance of discipline, the vices and excesses of the ecclesiastics grew up to the highest pitch, and were so public and universally exposed as to excite against them the hatred and contempt of the people. We cannot repeat without a blush the usury, the avarice, the gluttony, the universal dissoluteness of the priests of this period, the licence and debauchery of the monks, the pride and extravagance of the prelates, and the shameful indolence, ignorance and superstition pervading the whole body...

These were not, I confess, new scandals: I should rather say that the barbarism and ignorance of preceding centuries, in some sort, concealed such vices; but,, on the subsequent revival of the light of learning, the spots which I have pointed out became more manifest, and as the unlearned who were corrupt could not endure the light through the pain which it caused to their eyes, so neither did the learned spare them, turning them to ridicule and delighting to expose their turpitude and to decry their superstitions.”

Bossuet* in the opening statements of his “Histoire des Variations,” admits the frightful corruptions of the Church for centuries before the Reformation; and he has been followed in our own times by Frederic von Schlegel [Philosophy of History, 400, 401, 410, Engl. Transl. 1847.] and Möhler. [Symbolik, II. 31, 32, Engl. Transl.]

While all of them are most anxious to prove that the Lutheran movement was revolutionary and subversive of the ancient faith, they are constrained to admit the universality of the abuses, which, in the language of Schlegel, “lay deep, and were ulcerated in their very roots.” — Charles Hardwick A History of the Articles of Religion; A History of the Articles of Religion: By Charles Hardwick, " p. 10

Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran, later Eastern Orhodox), The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959), also found:

"Recent research on the Reformation entitles us to sharpen it and say that the Reformation began because the reformers were too catholic in the midst of a church that had forgotten its catholicity..." 

The reformers were catholic because they were spokesmen for an evangelical tradition in medieval catholicism, what Luther called "the succession of the faithful." The fountainhead of that tradition was Augustine (d. 430). His complex and far-reaching system of thought incorporated the catholic ideal of identity plus universality, and by its emphasis upon sin and grace it became the ancestor of Reformation theology. … All the reformers relied heavily upon Augustine. They pitted his evangelical theology against the authority of later church fathers and scholastics, and they used him to prove that they were not introducing novelties into the church, but defending the true faith of the church.”

...To prepare books like the Magdeburg Centuries they combed the libraries and came up with a remarkable catalogue of protesting catholics and evangelical catholics, all to lend support to the insistence that the Protestant position was, in the best sense, a catholic position.

Additional support for this insistence comes from the attitude of the reformers toward the creeds and dogmas of the ancient catholic church. The reformers retained and cherished the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the two natures in Christ which had developed in the first five centuries of the church….” 

If we keep in mind how variegated medieval catholicism was, the legitimacy of the reformers' claim to catholicity becomes clear. (Pelikan, pp. 46-47)

"Substantiation for this understanding of the gospel came principally from the Scriptures, but whenever they could, the reformers also quoted the fathers of the catholic church. There was more to quote than their Roman opponents found comfortable." (Pelikan 48-49).

However, Scripture, tradition and history can only assuredly consist of and mean what Rome may say they do, and which is the real basis for the veracity of Rome for a RC. Thus no less than Cardinal Manning stated,

"It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine....The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour." — Most Rev. Dr. Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Lord Archbishop of Westminster, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, pp. 227,28

And which means that the basis for the veracity of church teaching does not rest upon Scriptural warrant, but upon the novel and unScriptural premise of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility, which is unseen and unnecessary in Scripture.

Newman: "in all cases the immediate motive in the mind of a Catholic for his reception of them is, not that they are proved to him by Reason or by History, but because Revelation has declared them by means of that high ecclesiastical Magisterium which is their legitimate exponent.” — John Henry Newman, “A Letter Addressed to the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation.” 8. The Vatican Council

Thus Rome can even declare something to be a matter of binding belief that was so lacking in testimony from early tradition that her own scholars disallowed it as being part of apostolic tradition.

As Ratzinger states,

Before Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven was defined, all theological faculties in the world were consulted for their opinion. Our teachers' answer was emphatically negative . What here became evident was the one-sidedness, not only of the historical, but of the historicist method in theology. “Tradition” was identified with what could be proved on the basis of texts. Altaner , the patrologist from Wurzburg…had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the 5C ; this doctrine, therefore, he argued, could not belong to the “apostolic tradition. And this was his conclusion, which my teachers at Munich shared .

This argument is compelling if you understand “tradition” strictly as the handing down of fixed formulas and texts [meaning having actual substance in history]…But if you conceive of “tradition” as the living process whereby the Holy Spirit introduces us to the fullness of truth and teaches us how to understand what previously we could still not grasp (cf. Jn 16:12-13), then subsequent “remembering” (cf. Jn 16:4, for instance) can come to recognize what it has not caught sight of [even bcz there was nothing to see] previously and was already handed down [invisibly, without evidence] in the original Word,” — J. Ratzinger, Milestones (Ignatius, n.d.), 58-59 (words in [brackets] are mine).

Therefore Rome can claim to "remember" a fable that only is evidenced as being a later development and make what at best warranted only speculation into a binding doctrine over 1700 years after the event allegedly occurred. But it can be held as such because,

"The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.” — Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), p. 275.

And thus, rather than being like the noble Bereans in seeking to ascertain the veracity of what is taught by examination of scriptural warrant, we have such papal admonitions as,

"It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock...the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors" (Vehementer Nos, an Encyclical of Pope Pius X, 1906)

This is contrary to how the NT church began, which actually began in dissent from those who sat in the seat of Moses over Israel, (Mt. 23:2) who were the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture, "because that unto them were committed the oracles of God," (Rm. 3:2) to whom pertaineth" the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises" (Rm. 9:4) of Divine guidance, presence and perpetuation as they believed, (Gn. 12:2,3; 17:4,7,8; Ex. 19:5; Lv. 10:11; Dt. 4:31; 17:8-13; Ps, 11:4,9; Is. 41:10, Ps. 89:33,34; Jer. 7:23) </p><p>

And instead they followed an itinerant Preacher whom the magisterium rejected, and whom the Messiah reproved them Scripture as being supreme, (Mk. 7:2-16) and established His Truth claims upon scriptural substantiation in word and in power, as did the early church as it began upon this basis. (Mt. 22:23-45; Lk. 24:27,44; Jn. 5:36,39; Acts 2:14-35; 4:33; 5:12; 15:6-21;17:2,11; 18:28; 28:23; Rm. 15:19; 2Cor. 12:12, etc.) To God be the glory, and of such testimony we (and I) need to show more of.

• It is also of note that division was not something new. Basil of Ceasarea, the ascetic 4th century Greek bishop of Caesarea:

Liberated from the error of pagan tradition through the benevolence and loving kindness of the good God, with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I was reared from the very beginning by Christian parents. From them I learned even in babyhood the Holy Scriptures which led me to a knowledge of the truth.

When I grew to manhood, I traveled about frequently and, in the natural course of things, I engaged in a great many worldly affairs. Here I observed that the most harmonious relations existed among those trained in the pursuit of each of the arts and sciences; while in the Church of God alone, for which Christ died and upon which He poured out in abundance the Holy Spirit, I noticed that many disagree violently with one another and also in their understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

Most alarming of all is the fact that I found the very leaders of the Church themselves at such variance with one another in thought and opinion, showing so much opposition to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so mercilessly rendering asunder the Church of God and cruelly confounding His flock that, in our day, with the rise of the Anomoeans, there is fulfilled in them as never before the prophecy, "˜Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.´

Witnessing such disorders as these and perplexed as to what the cause and source of such evil might be, I at first was in a state, as it were, of thick darkness and, as if on a balance, I veered now this way, now that"”attracted now to one man, now to another, under the influence of protracted association with these persons, and then thrust in the other direction, as I bethought myself of the validity of the Holy Scriptures.

After a long time spent in this state of indecision and while I was still busily searching for the cause I have mentioned, there came to my mind the Book of Judges which tells how each man did what was right in his own eyes and gives the reason for this in the words" "˜In those days there was no king in Israel.´ With these words in my mind, then, I applied also to the present circumstances that explanation which, incredible and frightening as it may be, is quite truly pertinent when it is understood; for never before has there arisen such discord and quarreling as now among the the members of the Church in consequence of their turning away from the one, great, and true God, only King of the universe...

Many such instances have I witnessed and many others I have heard of, and persons who make profession of such matters know many more still, so that they can vouch for the truth of what I have said. Now, if good order with its attendant harmony is characteristic of those who look to one source of authority and are subject to one king, then universal disorder and disharmony are a sign that leadership is wanting. By the same token, if we discover in our midst such a lack of accord as I have mentioned, both with regard to one another and with respect to the Lord´s commands, it would be an indictment either of our rejection of the true king, according to the Scriptural saying: "˜only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way,´ or of denial of Him according to the Psalmist: "˜The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.´...

Is there not a far greater obligation, then, upon the whole Church of God to be zealous in maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, fulfilling those words in the Acts: The multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul.' That is, no individual put forward his own will, but all together in the one Holy Spirit were seeking the will of their one Lord Jesus Christ, who said : *I came down from heaven not to do my will but the will of Him that sent me, the Father/ to whom He says: 'Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me, that they all may be one...' St. Basil : Ascetical Works Fathers of the Church, Volume 9

What this writings by Basil, the ascetic 4th century Greek bishop of Caesarea, does is actually testify to the great amount of contentions and disunity in that era, and of his finding in Scripture the reason for the condition which he found perplexing. He thus advocates the need for unity and holiness under the leadership of Christ, and which conclusion and substantiation he also obtains directly from Scripture. Though the need for human leadership is not to be denied, and is implied in his writings herein, yet an infallible pope and or magisterium is not set forth as the solution here (and Basil was disappointed by the refusal of the autocratic Pope Damasus - who obtained his seat with the help of a hired murderous mob - failure to deal with heresy), but Basil sets forth Christ as the direct object of obedience. And he constantly cites Scripture as being the supreme source and authority, with the words of Christ in the gospel being "more worthy of credence than any other historical account or argument." In declaring what "I have learned from the Holy Scripture, he also professed to make "a sparing use of titles and words not found literally in Holy Writ, even though they preserve the sense of Holy Scripture." He also made "the teaching [singular] of the saints" a standard he avoided being contrary to. However the teachings (plural) of so-called “church fathers” too much testify to the progressive accretion of traditions of men, and his piety and reverence for the inspired word of God did not prevent him from some errors, such as on the nature of the bread and wine in the Lord's supper .

More reading (as with all links, references cannot imply agreement with all a site may offer; we need to be like the noble Bereans of Acts 17:11):

The Nonexistent Early Papacy

Jason Engwer’s Early Church links

House Churches in Rome

The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic 1

The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic 2

The Birth of the Inquisition

Rome's claim of "unbroken succession"

The Vicious Circle

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